I love a good show celebrating women, especially when they’re so rarely done.
Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World is a new musical directed by Amy Hodge and based on the picture book by Kate Pankhurst (who is, in fact, a very distant relative of the legendary Emmeline Pankhurst) and it has a brilliantly simple concept that means it can be executed incredibly on stage.
Jade (played by Kudzai Mangombe) is an 11-year-old girl who feels like she’s not being heard by anyone in her life and while on a school trip, she stumbles into a closed area and ends up meeting many inspirational women from across the globe who try to make her realise that every woman can change the world just by being in it.
This musical has a truly fantastic message and theme for young children and adults alike. And the catchy songs (written by Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo) have a popstar and girl band vibe, which of course appeals even more to the young members of the audience. These songs include an abundance of information in easily remembered tunes – which only adds to the show’s educational value for schools and children.
It shouldn’t have been surprising to see an all female band (Audra Cramer, Rhiannon Hopkins and Chloe Rianna) playing above the cast, but unfortunately it is still rare to see women in these roles. This musical showcases women as pioneers but also as people who can do whatever they want, just the way men can. And that is such an important message for all generations.
The choreography by Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe is synchronised, not too much to distract from the lyrics of each song but enough to make them all the more memorable. A standout moment is when Gertrude Ederle (played by Christina Modestou) demonstrates swimming the English Channel and the other cast members let a blue sheet rip through her to create more of an illusion to make it feel likewe’re really there with her in the moment.
Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst are just a few of the famous women portrayed. All led such different lives and yet their common trait is that they made a difference for other women and inspired so many. This musical combines education and performance as well as giving the audience the true stories of how women were treated differently in the past and in many ways still are.
For a small cast, the production was impeccably executed and there were many clever decisions that made it even more engaging and exciting. This included incorporating the set into a lot of the songs and having the cast members use their costumes during songs to display their characters even more.
This is a show that truly deserves to grow and take over the theatre world – not only is it important it’s so fun at the same time. Isn’t that exactly what every musical needs?