Miss Nightingale is an original British musical which tells the tale of Northern nurse Maggie Brown (stage name Miss Nightingale) who dreams of being a West-End singer, along with her on-off boyfriend Tom, her gay Polish songwriter George, and wealthy war hero Sir Frank – who has set up a new club called the Cockpit. The story is set in London during the war and touches greatly on the issues of the time throughout the show.
Created by Sheffield musical theatre duo Matt Bugg and Toby Oliver, the show featured at the Vaults Festival last year and clearly made a great impression as it has returned to London once again, this time to Leicester Square’s Hippodrome Casino until May 6th.
From the moment you walk through the doors of the Hippodrome, you are thrown back in time to 1940’s war-torn Britain, being greeted by a fully-uniformed air raid warden who accompanies you past the air raid shelter and on to the club.
The ‘club’ is laid out in proper cabaret style, with tables surrounding the low stage in a rather intimate setting of just 180 seats. On each table is a newspaper depicting relevant stories from the time, as well as a programme disguised as a ration book. Drinks are also served directly to your table before the show and during the break.
The show itself is a rollercoaster of emotions, with hard-hitting scenes involving the war effort and politics of the time, mixed in with light-hearted comical cabaret performances including innuendo-packed numbers such as ‘The Pussy Song’ and ‘The Sausage Song’ (no I’m not making these up!).
Maggie is an entertaining but also powerful character, depicting a strong and independent woman for the time. However, for me, the best part of the storyline had to be the secret relationship (due to it being illegal at this time) between George and Sir Frank which has it’s many ups and downs throughout the show.
The highlight of Miss Nightingale is undoubtedly the many musical numbers. The small but extremely talented cast not only sing the songs beautifully but also play the accompanying musical instruments during each others performances. There is even a short tap-dancing number at one point. Is there anything these actors cant do!?
Miss Nightingale is a fun and immersive experience which touches on several important issues and will have you laughing, crying, shocked and even angry in the space of just 3 hours. It is certainly worth going to see before it leaves London once again on May 6th.