Sarah Crown, Theatre Correspondent
Fantastically Great Women WHO Changed The World
Jade Kennedy, Christine Modestou, Kirstie Skivington and Renee Lamb - photo credit Pamela Raith
Whilst this is a show that everyone would enjoy whatever their background, age or gender, this show should be a ‘must see’ on every school curriculum.
‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ shadows an eleven-year-old Jade, who fears she has been forgotten about and has been left behind whilst on her school trip to a local gallery. Jade takes refuge in the Gallery of Greatness where she is unwittingly drawn into a series of exciting adventures each led by a prominent historical female figure.
Along Jade’s adventures, she meets a series of incredible and well-known women, including Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Jane Austin, Marie Curie and Emmeline Pankhurst as well as some less well known, but no less important trail blazers such as Sacagawea and Mary Seacole.
Together, these famous women come together to share their stories and, in the process, empower Jade as learns about choice, influence and more importantly individual mindset and self-belief.
The show is adapted from the books written by Kate Pankhurst, a descendant of the famous suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, and brings to life history in a modern and memorable way.
Jade played by Kudzai Mangombe, is an exceptional talent. She is on stage from beginning to end, and was well able to convey her change in attitude and outlook from her initial school girl vulnerability through to her newly inspired confidence, self-belief and determination to succeed in life and hopefully try to improve the world.
The small all female cast are rarely off stage and do not relax for a single second. They play multiple characters and effortlessly switch between their various roles, easily capturing their historical namesakes. They all have boundless energy and should be congratulated for their own hard work and dedication, seamlessly blending historical facts with humour, song and dance.
The songs written by Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo will make your feet tap having a popstar cum girl band vibe, whilst the compact all female band are brilliant and are stars in their own right.
Of especial note, ‘Deeds Not Words’ by Emmeline Pankhurst (Kirsty Skivington), Frido Kahlo’s colourful song with the brilliant percussion section, and the emotional lullaby song by Rosa Park’s character played by Renee Lamb were particularly memorable, but having said that, all of the musical numbers were energetic and modern and suited to their historical heroine.
The show is bright and colourful in every conceivable way – the characters, the performers, costumes, set and lighting design. The production and creative teams deserve huge congratulations.
The core message of empowerment, self-belief and self-worth achieved through hard work, determination and adversity is delivered in a short ninety minutes. It must surely encourage young and old alike to reach for the stars to achieve their ambitions and fulfil their potential, whilst making the world a kinder and more tolerant place in which to live.
At Sheffield Lyceum until 4th June