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Nativity! at The Marlowe Theatre

If you’re not feeling ready for the festive season just yet, get down to your local theatre and watch Nativity the Musical. Based on the hit film and guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit, Nativity! is currently touring theatres across the UK. The musical is at the Marlowe Theatre until Sunday 17th November and last night I was fortunate enough to see the festive musical in action at the Marlowe’s Nativity! press night (gifted tickets). Telling the story of the fictional St Bernadette’s primary school in Coventry and their annual nativity production, Nativity! is a heart warming and fun story for all of the family.

My ticket for Nativity! at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Hollywood comes to Coventry?

Nativity the Musical souvenir bauble

After Mr Maddens (their teacher, played by Scott Garnham) boasts that Hollywood are coming to see the primary school’s annual show, rumours spread across town and St Bernadette’s steps into the spotlight. Over the course of 2 hours of theatre, Mr Maddens and his much adored assistant Mr Poppy (Scott Paige) prepare the children for their Hollywood extravaganza, whilst at the same time trying to convince Jennifer (Mr Maddens’ ex-girlfriend, Ashleigh Gray) to come to Coventry and actually bring Hollywood with her. Coventry has got Hollywood fever and the last thing the teachers want is to have to admit the disappointing truth. Throw into the mix the rival Oakmoor Prep, Mr Maddens’ dramatic nemesis Gordon Shakespeare (Charles Brunton) and the harsh theatre critic Patrick Burns (Jamie Chapman) and you’ve got a whole lot of performing arts chaos in Coventry. A hilarious plot for all ages, Nativity! had me laughing in my seat the whole way through the performance.

The Cast

Scott Paige and Scott Garnham as Mr Poppy and Mr Maddens
Mr Poppy and Mr Maddens. © Oliver Rosser / Nativity!

There’s no denying that the star of the show is Mr Poppy: the big-kid-turned-teaching-assistant who encourages the children to live their Hollywood dreams. In scene with Mr Maddens the duo have a good cop, bad cop relationship and even though they disagree about almost everything, they both ultimately want what’s best for the children and to get Hollywood to really come to Coventry. Other stand out performances were Mrs Bevan (Penelope Woodman) the uptight headteacher at St Bernadette’s and Gordon Shakespeare who was a fabulous villain. It goes without saying that the children of St Bernadette’s and Oakmoor Prep had such incredible stage presence and if they’re this good at such a young age, they’re bound to be the next generation of theatre stars!

The Set

The set for Nativity the Musical at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

One of the things that surprised me most was the complexity of the sets. Rotating between the two schools, Parker Pictures in LA, Coventry Cathedral and the Mayor’s House, there were lots of interactive sets for the audience to enjoy. The Coventry Cathedral set was the most spectacular in my opinion and it came complete with a star hanging from the ceiling for the big ‘Sparkle and Shine’ number at the end. This was my favourite part of the show and the song was so infectious and happy live in the theatre.

The Music

Tracks from the film, Christmas favourites and some new direct for stage songs made up the musical soundtrack. Each original number was incredibly catchy and I was singing some of them at home last night well after we’d left the Marlowe. The songs were perfect for a Christmas musical!

Meeting Mr Poppy (Scott Paige) at Stage Door after the show
Meeting Mr Poppy (Scott Paige) at Stage Door after the show

I thoroughly enjoyed Nativity! and it was just what I needed to get into the Christmas mood. A fun and hilarious production, it’s a really joyful show that appeals to all ages – especially the big kids among us! The musical is at the Marlowe until Sunday so why not head to the Marlowe website and get some tickets before it’s too late. With Nativity! this week and the pantomime Mother Goose opening in 2 weeks, the Marlowe is certainly kicking the festive season off with a bang.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx



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