Then, Now & Next is a new British original musical written by Christopher J Orton and Jon Robyns in a first-time collaboration for the pair.
Directed by Julie Atherton, it tells the story of Alex (Alice Fearn). Struggling with a difficult past, she finds it difficult to move forward. We follow her journey over twenty years, through two loves – the young and passionate Stephen (Joaquin Pedro Valdes), and the older, more stable Peter (Peter Hannah) – in the hope of re-building her story.
In the intimacy of Southwark Playhouse, this creative musical switches between emotions (and time zones) with ease, the audience absorbed by the story.
One of the strengths of the show is the cast. Alice Fearn (best known for the roles of Elphaba in Wicked and Beverley Bass in Come from Away) moves confidently between the sad and the hilarious. Joaquin Pedro Valdes (Heathers, Lion King) is always a pleasure to watch: he knows how to imbue emotions into his acting and singing. Peter Hannah (Waitress) moves the story to a new, more profound level. Tori Allen-Martin and Justin Brett conclude the company, excellently playing minor roles.
The problem with the musical is the songbook. There are a couple of beautiful ballads, but apart from that, the musical moments are mostly forgettable.
Embracing your life means you are at home within yourself, and authentic with others as you are with yourself. And possibly, this is all it takes to truly heal.
The beauty of Then, Now and Next is that Alex’s experiences are the experiences of each one of us.
It runs until 29 July.
Photos: Pamela Raith