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There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding Eugenius! since its one-off concert performance at the London Palladium in June 2016 (then starring writer Ben Adams and West End stalwart Amy Lennox), but now the musical has opened at The Other Palace in Victoria for a strictly limited run with a brand new cast.
The show is full of catchy songs (unsurprising when one of the writers is the former frontman of boyband big-hitters A1), which you’re guaranteed to still be singing days later. But the show also boasts a punchy script full on zingy one-liners, witty dialogue and a whole lot of heart.
Steeped in retro ’80s pop culture references, Eugenius! really is a musical for our time – likely to tap into the Stranger Things cultural vibe currently taking the world by storm.
Narratively, the show follows Eugene, a comic book-loving geek (not a nerd, there’s a difference) who is trying to write his own comic book series: Tough Man.
When Eugene’s best friends, Janey and Feris, convince him to enter a competition to see his story turned into a movie, Eugene finds himself displaced in the sleazy, sexy and seductive world of Hollywood, his story compromised and his dreams held hostage.
What follows is a brilliant coming-of-age saga, as geeky Eugene learns how to overcome his fears and reclaim his story, discovering the true origins of his beloved Tough Man along the way.
The production is bolstered by plenty of talent. Ian Talbot’s direction is sharp and fast-paced, while Aaron Renfree’s choreography matches this style with ease; elsewhere, Andrew Ellis’ lighting and Gareth Owen’s sound designs lend a wonderfully camp sci-fi flavour to proceedings.
Ultimately though, it’s the talented cast here who make the show.
Liam Forde is excellent as Eugene. He makes for a fine leading man, who you’re really rooting for by the end. There’s also tremendous support from the likes of Scott Paige as Theo, Melissa James as Super Hot Lady and Alexander Evans as Eugene’s Dad.
The ensemble are incredible too, crammed full of what can only be described as quick-change athletics. They play everything from high school jocks and cheerleaders to movie producers and a bizarre, florescent-clad alien race with flair and flamboyancy from the off.
As the villains of the piece, Cameron Blakely and Ian Hughes are having a ball as Lex Hogan (a crooked mogul) and Evil Lord Hector respectively; and there’s even a star turn by Star Wars legend Mark Hamill (in voice form) as Kevin the Robot – the show is produced by Hamill’s co-star Warwick Davis.
Stealing the show, however, are Laura Baldwin as Janey and Daniel Buckley as Feris.
Baldwin’s voice is impeccable, particular during ’80s power ballad-inspired The Future is Bright, while Buckley – as the comedic foil – is a joy from the moment he arrives, completely stealing the show during the especially fantastic No Pants Dance.
It’s the title track though, Go Eugenuis!, that’s worth it’s weight in gold. Like any half-decent superhero, it becomes Eugene’s unofficial theme song and we guarantee that by the time this incredible cast are belting it out in the finale, you’ll be up on your feet, a thwacking great smile on your face, singing along at the top of of your voice!
Eugenius! the musical runs at The Other Palace until 3 March 2018. Tickets are on sale now. Get yours via Ticketmaster.co.uk.