The full West End production of Your Lie In April arrives on the Harold Pinter stage following the success of the concert earlier this year. The cast are given moments of epic vocals in Frank Windhorn's score. It makes for a fun night at the theatre but this adaption of the twenty two episode series feels too condensed for one evening. 

The story has been made easy to follow whether you have watched the series or not. K?sei Arima (Zheng Xi Yong), a young piano prodigy, is unable to hear music notes when he plays after his mother passes away. He meets the new girl at school, Kaori Miyazono (Mia Kobayashi) whose violin-playing and convincing personality makes him want to play the piano again. In taking part in a music competition with Kaori, K?sei begins to fall back in love with the piano. 


Zheng Xi Yong is an exceptional talent. He plays live piano throughout the show, he is a believable K?sei battling his inner demons. His relationship with the memory of his mother is touching. Mia Kobayashi is a rising star with incredible vocals and embodies the original manga character. Their chemistry is great, the tragic love story is well played between them as well as their hot-headed friendship. It would have been nice to see both lead characters cast as actor musicians, it felt like a missed opportunity. 

Rachel Clare Chan and Dean John-Wilson star as Tsubaki and Ryota, bringing comic relief and bursts of energy to the storyline. Both are outstanding in their roles and the audience are entertained. Their sentimental moments feel unexplained and rushed, we don't get enough time with these characters. The same applies to Emi and Takeshi, the rivalry competition duo played by Ericka Posadas and Ernest Stroud who shine but ultimately aren't served by the condensed down storyline.The ensemble are vibrant, slick and vocally exceptional. The stage is always bustling. All interactions and movements are cartoon like which really works. 

The cast are great but the book feels too packed out. We have epic number after epic number from Frank Wildhorn with very little dialogue or character exploration which feels more like a concert. We don't get to digest or think about the complexity of the storyline before a new one begins. When watching the original series the characters get a satisfying arc that we unfortunately lose out on in the musical. 

Visually the show is one of the most impressive I have seen in the West End. The video design by Dan Light pulls you straight into the magical world of manga. The cherry blossoms and details in the set by Justin Williams that levels upwards and branches outwards are stunning. The revolving piano is the perfect centre piece for all of the action. 

Nick Winston does an exceptional job at transporting us to Japan, the culture is flowing and it's refreshing to see a full South East Asian company on stage. With a little more running time we could get a fuller picture but great work has been done. I hope to see more Manga and Anime adaptions in the West End.


It runs until 21 September. Tickets from £15: here.

Review: Nicole Botha     Photos: Craig Sugden