The concept of this new musical at Village Theatre was instantly appealing. Howard Barnes wakes up to find his life has become a musical. As a musical theatre fan, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than having a life full of spontaneous songs and dance breaks, but for an ordinary guy like Howard, he simply wants to return to normality.
Watching the first few scenes, I was worried I would be disappointed. It was amusing but not laugh aloud funny and I was still waiting for a wow moment. However, once I settled into the rhythm of the show, those moments came time and again. As a reserved Brit, it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud, but I laughed and smiled my way through the whole show.
The story is clever, funny, emotional and surprising, with an array of fantastic characters, from the key players to the tiniest cameos. The cast was flawless, the energy infectious and the dramatic moments pulled at the heart-strings. If you are a musical theatre fan, you will love spotting the references to all of your favourite musicals, as familiar characters and numbers appear and are reborn, Howard Barnes style. My personal favourite was the homage to cell block tango by Howard’s ex-girlfriends.
The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes is not some frivolous comedy musical. Hilarious as it is, the show has some unexpected emotional scenes and explores the complex world of relationships, rejection and moving on. A must see for musical theatre fans but a wonderful treat even if you’re not. Don’t miss it!
Here’s a little taster
Would I take the kids?
There are some adult references and sexual words in songs (some of which, I wish weren’t there so it were more kid friendly). I would say it is a PG13 rating – on balance I would take my musical theatre obsessed 10-year-old, because I think she would love it. I do however, think some of the relationship themes would be difficult for her to fully understand and I really wish some of the sexual words in certain songs would be taken out, so I didn’t have to answer awkward questions. If you want more information before making your own judgement, check out the production preview guide
The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes runs until October 21st in Issaquah and from October 26th – November 18th in Everett. The show runs without an intermission, so if you go on a week night you can still be in bed by 10.