Edinburgh Fringe: Love Birds

Love Birds: A new musical by Robert J. Sherman
Reviewed on August 24th, 2015
Pleasance Courtyard

by Bernie C. Byrnes

Love Birds of 1923 is an avian vaudeville run by plesiosaur Armitage Shanks, determined to keep his show clean in a cutthroat competitive market. When the star, Baalthazar (the Feathered Caruso) walks out due to unacceptable audience behavior (a response to him being “a gentleman of colour” – he’s a macaw), Shanks needs to find another headline act or he’s ruined. Fortunately three (meant to be four) penguins arrive to save the day.

“One of our penguins is off sick” announces Shanks before we’ve even begun “but the show must go on!” And go on it does. With a bit of expert off-stage singing, the trio of penguins still delivers an impressive barbershop quartet and a delightful save by the band at the end (Marcus and James Pritchard) means we barely miss him. But for the occasional hole in the beautiful choreography (by Stewart Nicholls) we wouldn’t really notice he was gone. The cast and creatives must have worked super hard and long into the night to work out how to compensate for the missing cast member but they more than pull it off.

John Guerrasio is ideal casting for the out-of-date, long-suffering dinosaur troupe boss. He delivers his role with expert timing and rules the stage. Greg Castiglioni plays the cracker-addicted star of the show point-perfectly and is a scene-stealer with every appearance. Boy can these guys sing. This whole cast is ridiculously talented.

On the down side, the plot is slim in this cheerful family musical and I left wondering if the pressure of shaving the production down to the requisite one-hour for the Fringe hadn’t robbed it of something. That said, this surprisingly progressive piece still lands as it should, making for a fabulous 60 minutes.

Robert J. Sherman and Stewart Nicholls are a match made in musical heaven. There are laughs a plenty, toe-tapping numbers, a delightful cast who are as talented as they are colourful and morals to be proud of.

Pleasance seemed too small to hold this delightful new show (you really shouldn’t be that close to a professional singer unless you’re dressing them), which has West End transfer written all over it – and deservedly so.


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