Ad Kate Pankhurst’s picture book, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, has been turned into a brand new musical championing female equality and sharing the history and stories of world changing women.
And, yes you’d be right thinking that Kate Pankhurst is a direct descendent of THE Emmeline Pankhurst, famous campaigner of the women’s right to vote!
Here’s everything you need to know about Fantastically Great Women The Musical that’s at MAST Mayflower Studios now until the 20 November when the show moves on to other theatres around the country…
MAST Mayflower Studios
I’d be remise if I didn’t start with the beautiful new MAST Mayflower Studios. It was my first trip, and I was so impressed with what’s been done with the building, it’s light, spacious, there’s a gloriously long bar and plenty of lounge seating.
It’s a very nice place for a drink before the show, and it so civilised that you could take your drink, in its glass, into the theatre. Good for the planet too.
And, two things high on my list whenever I’m at the theatre is good seating and the view. I’m pleased to report that MAST has comfy seats, plenty of leg room, I’m five foot nine and my partner six two, and we both, for once, didn’t felt cramped.
The auditorium is also quite intimate, it’s big but not too big meaning you’ve got a good crowd but still have an excellent view.
I’ll definitely be booking to go back in a heartbeat – it made the experience so much better.
Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful bits of Hampshire heritage artwork on the walls too.
Anyway, onto the show…
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World
The story follows a young girl called Jade and her bear, aptly named Bear-once. Jade’s going through a big change in her life and hides in her local museum. She embarks on a quest to find answers or a way to deal with what she’s facing.
On her journey through the closed west wing of the museum she encounters the wonder women, the stars of the exhibition taking shape. They help her navigate her thoughts, emotions and how she’s going to deal with the challenge that lies ahead of her.
This powerhouse of a play offers diversity, incredible music and history. But also, strong tales of women and, that rare to achieve, uplifting, heartwarming feel good vibe. It’s got quite a Disney like quality.
In fact, you know that lots of children’s films often cater to adults too? Well, that’s what Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World does. It’s utterly charming.
The use of the stage is both imaginative and excellent. While it’s not a huge scale production it feels like a big production. Perhaps I have not worded that quite right but, I hope you understand what I’m angling at.
It’s rare to find a show that’s wholesome, based in reality and incredibly diverse. I wish there was a show that shared different body types, races and a healthy attitude to equality when I was a child. It handled some huge topics in a very engaging, respectful and honest way – it was enchanting.
Not only do you have such a wealth of diversity and talent but the music is actually a collection of good pop songs. As a gal raised on the MGM greats, I’m talking High Society, Easter Parade, Calamity Jane, Top Hat and On The Town, I’m a bit hit and miss when it comes to the music of modern musicals. We like what we like, right?
But, the woman behind the show’s tunes is a number one pop songwriter with hits records for Kylie. Yes, THE KYLIE but also, Girls Aloud, Sugababes and Franz Ferdinand to name just a few. She’s had 35 top 10 hits. Her name’s Miranda Cooper, you need to give her a Google.
So the songs are ‘musical bangers’ and you’d be hard pressed to leave the evening without humming one of the tunes.
It was a shame that the music has not been professionally recorded (Yet? It could be in the pipeline?) as I would have bought a CD or digital download immediately! I’m writing this in mid November 2021, so it might change as the show develops and gains more fans.
My particular favourites included the anthem stomping ‘Deeds not words’, the geographical scene setter ‘Where do you want to go?’ and whimsical but clever ‘Mary, Mary and Marie’.
As you’d expect it covers a whole different array of women from history, all ages and races. And, while you might be familiar with some of their stories already, the show includes lots of facts and information that you either didn’t know or might not have covered since you were at school.
From Frida Kahlo to Sacagawea, the women featured are either pioneers, masters of resilience, explorers or the mastermind behind truly great world-changing discoveries and scientific endeavours.
It also clarifies the history behind some of the women I am less familiar within the wider context of the story with catchy songs and loud outfits.
If you have children, this show is a must. I’d also really encourage most of my adult friends to see this show too. Fantastically Great Women’s positive female empowerment message is something we missed from our youth and was only really partially covered by the Spice Girls through Girl Power.
And, like I mentioned earlier it still manages to cover all topics, history and diversity while still maintaining its wholesome, enriching, lighthearted upbeat narrative and feel. I left feeling lighter, happier and more informed. Have I shared some of the women’s cool facts in casual conversation? You bet I have!
The Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is on at MAST Mayflower Studios until 20 November 2021 before moving on to Norwich, Liverpool, Aylesbury and Chichester.
The show is a collaboration between Bloomsbury, Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and MAST Mayflower Studios – I’m very thankful for the the team for inviting me to review. What a luxurious treat – my first post lockdown theatre trip too!
If you liked this, take a look at these other shows that were at the sister Mayflower Theatre in Hampshire…