A sure fire hit that you simply must see.
British Theatre Guide
The songs are reminiscent of tunes you would hear in classic Broadway shows and iconic Disney films.
Theatre Travels
The British Annie? An engaging new musical with a flat-out brilliant children's cast.
MusicalTalk - Thos Ribbits
Freckles create the feel good effect.
Edinburgh Guide
The original storyline conveys a feel good factor - Catchy original musical numbers.
Black Diamond FM
21 new songs, most of which wouldn't be out of place in the West End.
Broadway World
The way this show made me cry from as early as the second song! It was absolutely charming.
Xavier McGettigan
Prior Park College
Lara Lizzie
Actress, Writer, Teacher, Director
“A Girl MissRed” (school edition) at Prior Park College proved to be a classy, energetic and characterful new musical. With four performances in the charming Julian Slade theatre the cast, crew and superb live band provided exuberant entertainment along with a heartwarming story. With a simple yet effective set that consisted of sails, art-work projections, film with lovely accompanying vocal (Evie), creative lighting and a “real” tree, the audience was transported from a Bristol care home to the colourful coastal world of Bigbury, South Devon. The addition of 1930’s footlights at the front of the stage clearly sets the scene and time period of A Girl MissRed - a new musical penned by Mel Lawman. As was previously written about the shorter Edinburgh Festival Fringe version in 2023, “The songs are reminiscent of tunes you would hear in classic Broadway shows or iconic Disney films - with very hummable tunes by Matt Finch (and additional songs by Owain Coleman and Tom Cory)." The cast of around 35 (Lower 3 to Upper 6th) mainly played the “adults” and “kids” of the village of Bigbury. However, the central child Fran (played so poignantly by Florence) is the stranger from elsewhere and Miss Red. She is greeted with some suspicion and reservation as she is given a temporary care placement with Martha, a grieving widow, played with a gentle sincerity by Eliza. Fran is introduced to a diverse range of populous. Early on in the story there is a humorous visit to The Blewitt family, headed by the talented Daisy, who displayed natural comic timing and was fantastically expressive. Mrs. Blewitt and Mr. Blewitt (Felix) have a great rapport and went on a most pleasing journey from overwhelmed parents to finding joy in family life again. Mr. Blewitt’s rendition of “Dare I” was priceless. The Blewitt kids were convincingly mischievous, eldest sibling (Gus) singing verses “I wish it was only me!” with verve, and middle brother (Tommy) delivering great witticism. “Hero Charisma” was another enjoyable Blewitt family rendition. Fran's encounter with a flamboyant W on the iconic Burgh Island culminated in a standout song and dance number. It was executed with such style and maturity by the all-round performer, Lucia. The party goers dancers looked stunning and sang with gusto. They all had “Charisma.” Mrs Rathbourn (Ella) and Mr Rathbourn (Josh) managed to balance being credibly pompous and judgemental with an underlying sadness. Their relationship too had satisfying twists and turns. The song “Flights of Fancy” with fabulous backing dancers was a charming insight into Mrs. R’s frustrations. Josh also played the pirate ghost Tom Crocker. Yes, it was a student and not a professional brought in (as some in the audience had thought.) This singing of “Inn with No Way out” was hauntingly polished. Mrs. R had another partner in crime in the form of Mrs. Potherthwistle (Hattie). The two played off each other so well, delivering some classic lines and facial expressions. Juliet played the compassionate and open-minded Aunt Cecilie, perfectly. Her nephew Arturo (Milo) also stood out for his gentle manner, lovely singing and attention to detail. Bigbury had a lively school of boisterous pupils who performed the memorable numbers of “Red Spells danger” (featuring the credibly spoilt Rathbourn girls, Melia and Darcey), “I won’t say Sorry” and “Live Wires” with great enthusiasm. The Headteacher in charge (or was he really?), was portrayed very pleasingly by Jude. He expressed the traditional and slightly jaded side of his nature and the refreshed, inspired reactions with great comic timing. His sidekick, Miss Stacey was a powerful young woman who looked beyond the surface to see the talent in Fran. Lucia again showed off her experience and prowess for Musical theatre. This show would not work without a believable Fran and Flo was spot on. She exhibited frustration, determination, imagination, delight and indeed warmth. When Fran sang (unheard by the populous at the train station) “but I want love”, I was moved by her vulnerable demeanour. She equally delivered some fantastic ‘Fran-ish’ one liners, demonstrating her ability to deliver dry humour, successfully. Fran’s relationship with Martha was touching. Both members of cast worked beautifully together and it showed. Unfortunately for Eliza and the audience, on the final night, Eliza had voice issues and wasn’t able to sing “Filament”. However, the previous night it was reported that she sang this song not only with technical excellence but with a range of clear emotions. She shone along with the Filament in the night light. Another very accomplished song was “Cruel Ache” performed by Flo, Eliza, Lucia, Jude and Milo. This and the very clever overlapping of tunes in the end of act one number “Trouble” were complex, creative and rousing. The “kids” in the show might have been less experienced than the older cast members but they brought their characters to life. They sang their hearts out and delivered many wonderful reactions and remarks, the defining of a “benefactor” by Hattie (Amelie) and Neville’s (Theo) response as an example. There are definitely some rising stars there for future productions. It was lovely in the final scene to see the return of the more sympathetic of care home staff, Miss Coles (played with a naturalness by Thea) to deliver the good news. The song “Odd Gets Even” was a fitting ending to a touching tale of triumph over adversity. A production is only as good as every member of its cast. Looking around at the engaged ensemble, who not only looked and acted their parts, but they also brought great support and finesse…. For example, the polishing of the shoes, the sewing of the socks, the angle of the caps, the hair styles, the gossiping girls and their mannerisms, the strutting of the teacher (Reuben) in the care home and the pirates convincingly enjoying a sway and a bevy. There was much to watch, listen to and admire in this fresh new musical. As a reviewer of school productions, I was delighted to see and hear the live band. It was of top professional standard and felt an intrinsic part of the journey. The costuming was awesome and totally relevant to each scene. The little accessories, hats, the scarves, the make-up and jewellery really helped the audience to believe they were transported in time, back to 1930’s England. This show might be set in the past but the issues of judgement, bullying, belonging, family and identity are all so relevant to present day. There is a lot of heart and truth running throughout Fran’s journey and those she meets along the way. This show is a lovely fresh option for schools in Britain and elsewhere. Well done Prior Park College for your courage, enthusiasm and conviction.
Audience Review
Roger Townsend
Founder and past Chairman of Salisbury Festival Founder and past Chair of Salisbury Arts Centre Past Board Director of Salisbury Playhouse
Although I have been associated with the Arts for 50 years, I had never been to the Edinburgh International Festival before, or its massive Fringe event. But in my twilight years I wanted to catch the atmosphere of the world’s biggest Arts Festival and particularly to see the opening performances of “A Girl MissRed”: a new musical, written and directed by Bath based Mel Lawman. So I made the long and rather tiring trip up to the Scottish capital from England’s south coast. And boy: was I pleased that I made that effort! Despite being staged in a typically basic Fringe box space with a minimal set, this show is fantastic and certainly merits future performances by secondary schools, am-dram groups and even by regional professional theatres. If this should happen near you then grab the opportunity to see it for yourself. “A Girl MissRed” featured seven adults and seven children. I am not going to pick out names of the grown-ups, because this would only be a disservice to those I have omitted. All the adults give top quality performances and it is difficult to believe that these are not professional actors. But as if to prove the old theatrical cliché of never act with animals or children, it is to the children that one was inevitably drawn. And quite simply, these kids were terrific! Aged around 11 or 12, they had clearly not been plucked off the streets, but had been well trained in dance and theatre from an early age and it showed with their wonderfully slick routines. But it was their joie de vivre and sheer enthusiasm for what they were doing that really radiated throughout the show - and it was infectious.​ The plot is set in the 1930's and centres around Fran, a young academically gifted girl who has grown up in the “care” system and whose boisterous personality and lively imagination has given her the reputation of being hard to handle: resulting in her being moved from home to home. Finding herself in a small Devon seaside school, she is treated with suspicion by her new schoolmates. But she is befriended by Arturo, a half-Italian boy who had been sent from Italy to stay with an English aunt, to escape from Mussolini’s fascist regime there. But Arturo is also picked on by others in the school, because he is “different” to them. This growing rapport between two misfits provides the most touching elements of the story and both Sasha Jennings and Frederick Spedo Mirandola brought a pathos and empathy to their roles which was astonishing for actors of their young age. I thought that a little more could have been made of this chemistry, which is still so relevant today. I confess that I was a little confused by the storyline at times, but heck, who cares? You do not go to a musical or opera for the storyline. You go to be entertained by great dancing and wonderfully catchy tunes and “A Girl MissRed” has those by the bucketful. I am still visualising the tap dancing and humming those songs almost a week later and that is the mark of a truly successful show.
Audience Review
David Ian Neville
Director/Producer - Audio and Theatre
The musical, A Girl MissRed, fizzes with bravado from the opening bar of the music to the final chord. Sasha Jennings plays Fran Ethel Red, a hard to place girl in care. Is Fran a troubled child or a troublesome child? Set in the 1930s, the musical explores Fran's dilemma as 'the adults' try and find the right school and home environment that will turn her into a well behaved child. Fran is exuberant and excited by the world around her, especially the sea, but lonely and in behavioural terms unpredictable. She doesn't fit in and she is often left out. The ensemble cast of children and adults are terrific - strong performances all round. With beautiful songs and inventive choreography, there is never a dull moment. In addition to professional productions, I can imagine this musical being used by schools, drama groups and colleges.
Theatre Travels
Olivia Ruggiero
Theatre Travels
What a lovely way to start my Edinburgh Fringe experience at Greenside’s very welcoming and inviting venue. The Forest Theatre at Greenside @ Infirmary Street is a “cute” space and quite packed on this sunny Saturday afternoon which is delightful to see! The addition of 1930’s footlights at the front of the stage clearly sets the scene and time period of A Girl MissRed - a new musical penned by Mel Lawman. This show is packed with potential - the songs are reminiscent of tunes you would hear in classic Broadway shows and iconic Disney films - with very hummable tunes by Matt Finch. The costuming is awesome and totally relevant to each scene - what I loved was the attention to detail - the little accessories, hats, the shoes, stockings and jewellery that really helped the audience to believe they were transported in time, back to 1930’s England. And there are some seriously quick costume changes that are pulled off swiftly and effectively. The costumes are all designed to match and create an atmosphere with each scene, and this extra thought really goes a long way to making the production seem more professional. The white room dividers that run across the back of the stage provide the perfect “Fringe” set, a blank canvas, to transport the audience to the different places the show visits along the way. Grace Bendle as Martha Timms has a stunning voice - she certainly holds up the adult cast of this show vocally and her stage presence is perfectly suited to the role. She exudes “Miss Honey” charm and simplicity. The ensemble of children are very strong and collectively they wow. Frederick Spedo Mirandolo is charming as Arturo and acts the role fabulously. The ensemble numbers are certainly the highlight in this show - as the cast blend well together and the music weaves beautifully. Cruel Ache is a standout number delivered beautifully by the cast and Friend Ship is so clever and delivered brilliantly. I would love to see the show with a live band and a full orchestra so the music can be heard as it was intended and with Broadway flare. Numbers like Charisma are so fantastically 1930’s - with a full big band playing live - it would bring the house down. The choreography by Lizzie Rose is stellar and a highlight of the show. It’s simple and effective choreography, which is my favourite type! The cast is clearly a talented bunch of triple threats who get to show off the full potential of their dancing in a rousing tap number towards the end of the show. This new musical is packed with potential - with some further character development and fleshing out of the storyline - this show could easily have a second and grander life than one on a Fringe stage. Whilst some of the music cues and transitions between scene/song could be a bit more fluid, this is something that would be fixed with a live musical director/conductor or orchestra behind the cast. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the theatre.
"And now the stage is filled by A Girl Miss Red, an original musical, featuring children alongside adults. We’re getting a montage of setpiece songs and dances, all energising and impeccably choreographed. Lots to admire here."
Richard Stamp
The Wee Review
Freckles create the feel good effect. The kids, girls and boys have been brilliantly directed and some of the choreography is quite excellent. The music is really good and some of the songs are excellent… It’s an upbeat story with a happy ending and the audience can only be impressed with the talent on show. The production is well presented and you can only admire the work that must have gone on behind the scenes to achieve this standard
Edinburgh Guide
The cast comprises of an exceptionally talented group of young actors who carry out the choreographed musical with practised aplomb. The original storyline conveys a feel good factor……catchy original musical numbers.
Black Diamond FM
There are 21 new songs, most of which wouldn't be out of place in the West End. The talent onstage is of exceptional quality. The Freckles Effect is a fun, fresh new musical that makes for an enjoyable evening.
Broadway World