Review: Disaster at the Charing Cross Theatre

West End and Broadway performers bring star quality to hilarious charity gala.

On Sunday the 20th of November, a stellar cast brought the hit Broadway musical Disaster to the London stage for the first time. Coming together for one night only, this gala performance at Charing Cross Theatre was produced in aid of the Make A Difference Trust, a charity supporting those with HIV/AIDS throughout the UK and beyond.

Although billed as a partially staged concert performance, it quickly became clear that this was a production with ambitions far beyond a simple stand-and-sing affair. Packed full of energetic choreography from choreographer Ashley Nottingham, and with an excellent onstage band led by MD James Taylor, everyone involved seemed determined to give this off-beat jukebox musical a suitably committed and rousing West End premiere. The acting, singing and dancing were all uniformly excellent.

The musical itself pays tribute to 1970s disco classics, which are hilariously interpolated in a narrative that pays homage to (and parodies mercilessly) the classic ‘disaster movie’ genre. In a tradition of comedy that the likes of Monty Python and Mel Brooks have made popular over the years, Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s deliriously funny script utilises physical gags and wordplay to elevate a surreal narrative to delightful heights of silliness.

Although financial and time constraints meant that many of the special effects you’d expect from a disaster movie (and indeed the original Broadway production of the show) simply couldn’t be achieved onstage, this didn’t detract from the story at all. That said, the material is so strong that we must all hope that before too long we’ll be able to see a big budget, fully-staged production of this delightfully raucous musical comedy.

It is a zany jukebox tribute show that has no delusions of grandeur, and delivers a shot of pure feel-good disco madness.

GT gives Disaster at the Charing Cross Theatre — 5/5



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