Review: Nativity, Festival Theatre

Nothing conjures up childhood festive memories quite like a traditional school nativity.

The chaotic nature of the annual school show was captured perfectly in 2009’s big screen hit Nativity so it’s a pleasure to see that the nostalgic charm which made the movie such an unexpected hit has been translated so well to the stage adaptation.

Debbie Issit’s Nativity the Musical opened on London’s West End in 2017 and follows the story of what happens when a downtrodden teacher is asked to stage a nativity at bottom-of-the-league-table St Bernadette’s Primary School in Coventry. Assisted by his ever-enthusiastic but undeniably hopeless new teaching assistant Mr Poppy, Mr Madden accidentally promises the whole school that a Hollywood producer is coming to film their show and make the staff and pupils famous with hilarious consequences.

The production is an upbeat, colourful and high-tech explosion of Christmas spirit featuring an impressive cast of talented kids who sang, danced, acted and even “flossed” their way through the show. Simon Lipkin, who starred in Nativity 3, was an absolute joy to watch as the loveable Mr Poppy. He injected the role with equal amounts of humour, charisma and energy, leaving everyone in the audience wishing they’d had a teacher like him at their school.
Aside from giving your child unrealistic expectations for their own school production, there is no reason not to rush out and buy a ticket to Nativity the Musical before it closes this weekend.

Nativity the Musical runs daily at The Festival Theatre on Nicholson Street until Sunday 2 December. Tickets are available from £22 – £55.

Words: Amy Anderson


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