If we are living through a new wave of exciting British musicals, Jack Godfrey can consider himself to be at the heart of the movement. Hot on the heels of the electrifying 42 Balloons' Lowry run, Babies is the composer's latest creation and it deserves to revel in similar levels of adulation.


There is a distinctly fringe-y feel to the London theatre scene at the moment. With Operation Mincemeat nabbing Best New Musical at the Olivier Awards, Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! opening at the Ambassadors Theatre and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button set to follow, it really is the moment for the grassroots musical and Babies is no different.


Godfrey's score blends seamlessly with collaborator Martha Geelan's book to produce something really exceptional. Tapping into the noughties indie pop scene for musical inspiration, this is the story of what happens when a class of year 11s are handed the responsibility of looking after animatronic baby dolls for a week.


Many of the cast featured in the show's concert performances at the Lyric Theatre last year and have returned for the full run. Lauren Conroy is a standout as high-achiever Jasmin, striking the right balance between the character's Monica Geller-esque desire to succeed and, well, being a 15-year-old girl. ‘Jasmin's Soliloquy' is a great character performance through song and Conroy captivates as Jasmin becomes increasingly desperate, often to comic effect. 


Jaina Brock-Patel is wonderful as Becky, who sees caring for her baby simulator as the perfect vehicle for Tiktok paid partnership videos. Having appeared as Katherine Howard in the UK tour of Six, she was clearly channelling her previous role as she brought the house down with ‘Someone Else'. Lucy Carter as Lulu also proves a highlight, giving excellent comedic timing as her character fights to be heard among her domineering friendship group.


Meanwhile, Babies is Zoë Athena's (playing Leah) debut in a professional musical production and she handled it with ease. Leah is at the centre of Geelan's book and is very much the ‘lead', if an ensemble piece such as this could be considered to have one. However, that is the show's only drawback; here are eight characters, all battling for space and sometimes their narratives get a little bit lost. While the story is endearing, a stronger, more compelling narrative is needed if Babies is to achieve commercial longevity.

There is no doubting the overall quality of the piece but one does wonder whether a focus on its female leads might have given an extra focus, with less of a scattergun approach to the book. Its male characters are somewhat weaker, although the boyband-style number ‘Hot Dad' does prove a genuine show-stopping moment. It also previously flowed more coherently as a one-act musical, as it was performed in its concert guise.


That being said, Babies is yet another exhilarating new British musical in what is an increasingly exciting scene. It may not have the emotional pull of Godfrey's other soon-to-be smash hit 42 Balloons but this noughties indie pop romp looks set to mature into an excellent show in its own right.

It runs at The Other Palace until 14 July. Tickets: here.


Review: Tom Ambrose      Photos: Matt Crockett