Best of Friends at the Landor Theatre
Nick Fogarty’s musical Best of Friends is the story of two young musicians hungry for fame. When Mike Chariot decides to enter a TV talent show, other band member Jim Ryan feels hurt and let down by his apparent friend. Mike inevitably goes on to win the show, leaving Jim with more then just heartbreak: with rage. The evil aspect of conformed music takes over Mike’s life, singing music he hates, and makes him leave the love of his life Natalie, unaware she is carrying his child. Overwhelmed by the bad choices he has made and feeling more and more alone, Mike runs away, leaving his career and life behind.
Fast forward 20 years and Mike is back, looking to fulfil his life’s dream of helping out kids who want more then to win a TV talent show. Mike wants to buy the old club where him and Jim use to rehearse, but finds out quickly that Jim is now the owner, and a crooked one at that. Doing a dodgy deal, Mike starts up “Falling Stars”, where young talents have an opportunity to make music and get their own songs recorded. As the drama unravels, the past rears its head. Yet, with a dramatic close, all comes good in the end with a final song.
Set in the small Landor theatre, the intimate feel gives the musical an odd sense of closeness, unnecessary for this particular play. The acting is top class, with all actors giving their all, improvising at the right times and really making the characters come to life. The live music is a great touch (especially in such a small place) but some singing is drowned out.
The plot, though, lets the play down. The first act is jammed full of storyline, giving a great insight to the back-story and really strong dialogue. But the second act feels like an excuse to just sing, with a rushed ending and so many loose ends just left hanging; it was remarkably let down by the lacklustre of the real storytelling that a musical needs to not make it into an all-singing show.
Giving a great insight into a modern-day problem in the music industry, Best of Friends highlights what a lot of musicians feel is wrong with the business. With quick-fix fame and throwaway record deals, a modern production with a fabulous cast and some real belters, but unfortunately an ending that falls short, this is a feel-good, cheesy pop show that is well worth a watch.
Photo: Matt Cocklin
Best of Friends is at the Landor Theatre until 10th May 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.