I'd been hearing lots of good things about Bend It Like Beckham for months, so when I heard that it was closing in early March, I knew that I had to see it! So, last night, for my mum's birthday, we finally went to see it!
As we all know, since I saw Miss Saigon (exactly a year before Bend It Like Beckham!), it has been my favourite musical on the planet, but it's safe to say that Bend It now shares that top spot! (SHOCK HORROR!) Allow me to explain why...
The music. Oh my goodness the music. I deliberately didn't listen to any of the cast album before seeing the show, so that I was going in with a completely blank 'imagination canvas'! Every song was completely and utterly perfect, both in the actual music itself and the delivery - as I'm writing this, I've got the cast album playing on repeat! Howard Goodall is clearly an absolute genius when it comes to combining two cultures - I'm not going to pretend to know anything at all about Indian music, but I'm pretty sure it was well represented and well mishmashed with your generic musical theatre styles - with added amazingfabulousfantasticbrilliantness!
Let's talk about Natalie Dew for a second. She gave one of the best West End performances I've EVER seen - full stop! For a start, she has one of those beautifully 'clear' voices that makes her sound sort of innocent, which suits the character of Jess perfectly. On top of this, she has this really honest and genuinely happy smile, that makes me just want to be her best friend!
The choreography had the same perfect blend of cultures - especially in the Act 2 finale, where you eventually end up with the entire cast onstage doing what must be one of the most high-energy dance numbers that I've ever seen!
One last thing before I leave you to listen to the cast recording and book your tickets - why are all of the white men in the cast about 10 feet tall?!