Review by Tatum Stafford
‘Jingle Street’ has a very quirky concept – it’s a musical about a big-shot ad writer who wakes up one day and can only speak (or sing, rather) in jingles.
While the premise is really strong, and the show listing dubs it as “Mad Men meets Groundhog Day”, this show unfortunately fell a little flat in its delivery.
The story centres around the seemingly cursed ad writer Colin, who meets a green campaigner named Jasmine, who might be just the ticket to cure him of his jingle curse. Throw in a few more characters including the self-confessed ‘dumb’ Parsley, and Colin’s boss Holofernes.
The performers were really strong in their own right, and displayed great chemistry and vocals throughout the show. I particularly enjoyed Maddie Smith as Jasmine; she had an amazing voice and beautifully natural acting. Tom Hayes as Colin is very energetic and fun, Emily Huxter as Parsley is bubbly, and Xander Pang is effervescent as Holofernes.
I enjoyed the songs by Georgia Rawlins, but felt that the book, written by Joe Venable, was a little underbaked. This felt especially pertinent in scenes with Parsley, who confesses her attraction for Jasmine early in the show, but then once Colin enters the picture, she seems adrift, and consistently refers to herself as ‘dumb’ which felt frustrating from an audience’s perspective. Unfortunately, in a short one-hour show, there didn’t seem time to develop her character more fully.
There were also moments when I felt production elements could have done some heavy lifting when it came to conveying the plot and helping the audience understand these characters more. For instance, the moment when Colin wakes up and is cursed with jingles is very subtle, and could have benefitted from some sound effects, lighting, or music to indicate something abnormal. Instead, Colin simply fell asleep at the piano, woke up, and something was wrong.
The onstage pianist Joseph Giles brought plenty of comic relief in his cameo section towards the end, breaking the fourth wall and addressing ‘the core cast’, and I really enjoyed the choreography by Alex Addinall. The set was also super interesting, and made the most of the large venue with multiple sides of audience seating. Director Mimi Pattinson has created some really nice moments with the audience, and the sightlines were really clear from where I was sitting, which is always appreciated.
If you’re in the mood for a fun, feel-good new musical, ‘Jingle Street’ has comedic moments and is sure to make you smile.