Theatre review: Ruthless! The Musical

Written by Joel Paley and Marvin Laird, ‘Ruthless! The Musical’ is a cult show, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1992 and you can catch now for the first time at the Arts Theatre in the West End. The musical appears like a satire to the world of ambitious show children and their pushy parents, producers and press agents. It is also famous for launching the careers of Britney Spears and Natalie Portman, both once understudies in the original production for the role of young Tina.

Think about a mix between Annie and Carrie, you would get a pretty explosive result, right? Well here you have Tina, an 8-year-old aspiring actress that won’t stop until she gets the lead in the school musical, even if she has to kill her fellow student to get it. Meanwhile her (initially) showbiz-hating mother and theatre critic grandmother will try to set her right.

Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner becomes drag diva Sylvia St Croix, who positions herself as an agent to child stars (but in fact has a show business past of her own).  Seeing him playing this role makes me think  he would be great as a panto dame! Anya Evans (Les Miserables, Matilda, Annie), is one of the four girls playing Tina. She is a very talented actress, she doesn’t only perform and sing like a West End star but she also tap dances!

Tracie Bennett, last seen to such splendid effect in the National’s Follies, plays the role of young Tina’s grandmother capturing the inner self-loathing and tortured misery of being a theatre critic.

Kim Maresca reprises her role as Tina’s housewife-turned-monster mum after playing it Off-Broadway in 2015. I personally loved her, her voice is so powerful and her character so funny! Lara Denning in dual roles, and Harriet Thorpe as the school teacher complete the cast of this production.

As for the set, it has some beautiful designs, it transforms form a suburban house – all floral patterned wallpaper – to a swanky Manhattan penthouse apartment. The costumes by Morgan Large are also wonderful, all late 1950s floral patterns with swing dresses cinched at the waist. All in all it’s a very good composition.

It’s only running until the 23rd of June so make sure you don’t miss out! Get your tickets here: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/ruthless!-the-musical/

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