The Route To Happiness

Rating [rating=4]

Reviewed by Tony Peters

Alexander S Bermange brings his wonderfully witty and often very moving new musical to the Landor Theatre as part of the venue’s From Page to Stage project, a showcase for new musical theatre writing.

With a cast of just three, who are all West End veterans from shows such as Wicked, Avenue Q, Mamma Mia! and Les Mis, it follows the fortunes of modern twenty-somethings trying to find direction in their lives and dreaming of a better future.

There’s Trinity (Cassidy Janson), a fame-obsessed wannabe determined to try anything, do anything to get her name in lights; Marcus (Niall Sheehy), a chancer recently sacked from his job, who’s looking for the business venture that will bring him the riches he so desires, and Lorna (Shona White), a writer who is desperately looking for love and Mr Right to settle down with.

Gradually the lives of these three strangers become intertwined and a right old tangled web of personal and professional problems they weave for themselves.

Some of Bermange’s lyrics are dazzling clever, both laugh-out-loud funny and emotional — particularly those of Trinity and Lorna as they document their pursuit of fame and men respectively. Cassidy Janson gives a terrific comedy performance as Trinity, while Shona White as Lorna will tug your heartstrings with her desperate search for love.

Nial Sheehy certainly looks the part as the savvy Marcus, who gradually has his bravado dented by unfolding events and turns from likeable wideboy to a character of dubious morals.

As you’d expect from a cast with such pedigrees, the singing is pretty much impeccable, although some notes at the top of the register seemed to get the better of Sheehy on the night I went.

From a host of memorable songs, the standouts are Lorna’s rousing I’ll Never Change a Single Thing and the girls’ duet on the haunting Waiting for the Call — for me a competitor with the title song for the show’s 11 O’Clock Number.

This show is ample proof that three talented people in a room accompanied by just a piano (some virtuoso playing from Bermange himself) and bass can produce something that will capture the imagination and arouse emotion just as much as the bells, whistles and pyrotechnics of a mega bucks extravaganza.

It’s at the Landor for just five short days and it would be a desperate shame if this hugely entertaining work didn’t get seen again soon.

Directed by Robert McWhir

Music and lyrics by Alexander S Bermange

The Route To Happiness plays at The Landor Theatre until 24 February 2013.