Review: Daisy Pulls it Off

4 star rating
A gifted cast of graduating actor-musicians from GSA strike all the right notes in this parody romp through 1920s life in a girls' public school, which still proves waggish fun.
Daisy Pulls it Off at Charing Cross Theatre

Image: GSA in the West End



Closes here: Saturday 30 June 2018

Author:
Denise Deegan

Composer:
Niall Bailey

Director:
Nicholas Scrivens, Phyllida Crowley Smith (musical staging)

Cast:

Marina Papadopoulos - Daisy Meredith

Cornelia Todd - Mother/ Alice Fitzpatrick

Gemma Evans - Monica Smithers

Lara Lewis - Clare Beaumont

Persia Babayan-Taylor - Sybil Burlington

Katy Ellis - Trixie Martin

Madeline Wilshire - Miss Gibson

Sophie Moores - Miss Granville

Harry Edwin - Monsieur Pierre

Hanna Khogali - Belinda Mathieson (Swing, Dance Captain)

Mark Fitzsimmons - Mr Scoblowski

Jacob Leeson - Mr Thompson


Synopsis


1927 - Daisy Meredith is the first scholarship girl taken from an elementary school to be granted access to the hallowed halls of the prestigious Grangewood School for Young Ladies.


Enthusiastic and plucky to the last, Daisy finds herself struggling against unspeakable snobs Sybil Burlington and Monica Smithers, who concoct ghastly schemes to get her expelled.


Ably assisted by her new best friend, madcap Trixie Martin, Daisy finds herself caught up in a series of irresistible adventures including the search for missing "Beaumont Treasure".


Can Daisy work out the mysterious clues and save the school from closure?


What secrets does the enigmatic Mr Scoblowski hide?


Background


Fresh from a sell-out run at the Bellairs Theatre, the first graduating year of GSA's BA Actor-Musician programme brings this unique production full of quirky characters, splendid scrapes and fabulous friends, to delight West End audiences.


This riotous and affectionate pastiche of a classic girls' school story was a huge West End hit and won the Olivier Award and Drama Theatre Award for Best Comedy when first produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1983.


Presented by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 21 June 2018
Review star rating image for 3 stars

Premiered in 1983 and originally produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, this is a parody of once popular (and possibly still popular, for all I know) schoolgirl stories, the likes of which were written by Angela Brazil.


Daisy Pulls It Off is a hockey sticks and rotters' romp that has its tongue firmly anchored in its cheek - all achieved in commendably light-hearted taste that makes it eminently ripe for family viewing.


A unique feature of this particular production of Daisy is that it boasts a cast drawn from the first graduating group of BA Actor-Musicians at Guildford School of Acting.


Living in the East End, Daisy Meredith is a bright girl who comes from a poor family.


Her father is dead and her ex-opera singer mother struggles to provide for Daisy and her 4 brothers.


Languishing for her education in a lowly elementary school, she's up for a scholarship at the posh public school outfit called Grangewood School for Young Ladies.


But when Daisy pulls off the seemingly impossible and gains entry to the hallowed halls of the "jolliest school in England", basically meant for toffs, she's faced with prejudice from some of the other young ladies who decide to hound her out of the establishment.


Challenges are heaped on challenges as Daisy is ostracised for 'sneaking' on the midnight feasts of the 'babes' from the junior forms and faces expulsion for cheating in a test.

Marina Papadopoulos (Daisy Meredith) & Company Photo Robert Workman

Marina Papadopoulos (Daisy Meredith) & Company - photo by Robert Workman


In his review of another recent revival of the show at Islington's Park Theatre, The Guardian's Michael Billington described it as "... somewhat relentless in its gaiety".


I know what he meant, but actually that is largely the point of the endeavour even if at times it might appear a touch overwhelming.


Marina Papadopoulos (Daisy Meredith) & Katy Ellis (Trixie Martin)

Marina Papadopoulos (Daisy Meredith) & Katy Ellis (Trixie Martin) - photo by Robert Workman

However, there are some neatly-crafted jokes providing true laugh-out-loud moments, largely leveraging the obvious class issues, which I certainly appreciated as did many others sitting nearby.


Talent abounds in this cast of GSA graduands, dominated by fiddle players but all striking the right notes in both the musicianship and acting departments, and palpably demonstrating that musical theatre seems in safe hands with these potential stars of the future.


Marina Papadopoulos is assuredly impressive in both her vocals and endearing characterisation as the honest and steadfast Daisy who is not about to capitulate in the face of insidious persecution.


She's ably supported by Katy Ellis as "madcap poet" Trixie Martin and Persia Babayan-Taylor as the rotter Sybil Burlington who, come the denouement, describes herself as a "perfectly hateful pig".


Director Nicholas Scrivens orchestrates proceedings with fluid, economical and creative aplomb.


Supported by inventive musical staging from Phyllida Crowley Smith, Mr Scrivens galvanises the strong ensemble to a polished and precise crescendo in the second half with a rousing and well-conceived jig-based hockey match that pretty-well brought the house down.


In the internet age, Daisy Pulls It Off might be a tad arcane for some, but it nonetheless still proves wholly good-natured, and enjoyably entertaining, waggish fun.



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