Based on the picture book by Kate Pankhurst, a fresh feminist pop musical is taking to the scene, as Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World is touring the country, before landing at the Edinburgh Fringe later this year. A selection of some of the most inspirational women from the past are portrayed in a fun-filled manner, while empowering all who listen to their stories.
As our little protagonist, Jade (played by Kudzai Mangombe), gets sidetracked on her school trip to the local museum, she ends up getting separated from the rest of the group, so sneaks off to visit a secret area that is unopened, named the 'Gallery of Greatness'. Here, heroines begin to appear to reassure Jade that her place in the world is valued, by just being who she is.
Through an excellent original setlist composed with lyrics by Chris Bush and Miranda Cooper, with the latter collaborating with Jennifer Decilveo on the music, the tracks are faultlessly catchy, and it is essential to have the cast album on repeat once you've seen the show. Vocally, each member of the cast contributes to create a combined magic, blending their tones well, but additionally displaying skill on their own.
The show begins by demonstrating this through 'Quiet Children'- an immediate introduction to the captivating and consistently engaging staging that only gets progressively more exciting throughout. To contrast, Jade then has a solo with 'I'm Here' when expressing her desire to be noticed as she is feeling suppressed, which develops both the character and performer confidence over the course of the show.
From Amelia Earhart to Marie Curie; Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen, Rosa Parks, and more, there are plenty of recognisable figures to be met during the performance, and it's guaranteed you'll learn something new about them, and several other clever references are made too. Between them, Renée Lamb, Jade Kennedy, Kirstie Skivington and Christina Modestou share the range of roles, with different, but equally strong and inspiring characterisation.
With each new discovery for Jade, the audience are exposed to enchanting surprises amid a swirl of costume changes and emerging set pieces that bring professionalism, and wonder as to what is coming next. While there is not a moment that seems flat or out of place, Frida Kahlo's song 'World of Colour' was notably impressive in every sense, and feels an utter joy to watch. The finale was an exuberant end to the performance too, simultaneously giving hope and happiness, alongside a message that has a touch of poignancy for women watching.
Although a family show, and lighthearted (particularly in the way of moustaches), the meaning of the show is crucial for adults and children alike. Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World is truly revolutionary. With the huge success of Six the Musical, there is so much hope for this to gain the same reception, to keep enhancing the platforms on which women are celebrated, and persevere with expressing this with the need that there is. This show could not be held in higher praise: it is important, necessary, and a must-see for everyone.