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Culture Theatre

Review: Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Still from Fantastically Great Women
Still from Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World


This musical is based on a children’s picture book by the same title, and I was apprehensive about how it would pan out. The show is lovely; I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did and came away inspired. The messages in the performance are very important for young children to learn and are applicable to adults too. The show’s brief historical walkthroughs were informative and interesting- this show contains a lot of information in easily digestible bite-size chunks and it is presented in a fun and entertaining way.

The story starts with a child called Jade who gets lost in a museum; she feels sad because no one seems to be looking for her and guilty because she’s got lost. Jade enters an out-of-bounds area of the museum and meets Amelia Earheart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean- just one of the fantastic women Jade meets and is mentored by throughout the show. She also encounters Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen, Emmeline Pankhurst, Agent Fifi and Marie Curie as well as many more.

Still from Fantastically Great Women
Still from Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World

The cast for this performance was amazing- four actors played 3-4 characters each and the acting and clever costume design meant each character was still unambiguously clear. The music is played live on the stage above the action by three musicians; Chloe Rianna, Rhiannon Hopkins and Nicola T Chang. The live music infused the performance with more life than an audio recording would have done. I believe allowing children watching the performance to see the musicians on stage can also work to inspire children to learn musical instruments; the musicians could act as role models for a young audience.

All the actors were very talented singers, and the music was a joy to listen to. I really enjoyed how the show also spoke to adults through various jokes and references. For example, Jade only knew of Jane Austen because ‘her Auntie likes that film with Colin Firth in it’ and the teachers joked about ‘Capri Sun going everywhere’ and other relatable scenes from parenthood. The musical score was upbeat, however, I found all the songs to have quite similar melodies and harmonies which resulted in them being less memorable. I’m not sure I would want to listen to the soundtrack alone, and whilst it might suit a child’s taste I do think the performance could have been improved with more musical variety.

Still from Fantastically Great Women
Still from Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World

There were some very interesting stage adaptations and props used in this performance; I thought the emulation of the sea through the waving metallic fabric was brilliant and the aeroplane was a nice touch to emphasise each character’s role in history. I think the performance could have been improved through more of these effects. I believe it would have been more engaging for the audience and helped the audience remember the various roles of the fantastic women.

Still from Fantastically Great Women

The show did a brilliant job at being informative and entertaining. It is difficult to sum up a character’s role in history, and a summary is always at risk of being romanticised or mythologised as you are necessarily choosing which information to present and which to remove. On the whole, I think the show did a brilliant job at this, however, there were some sections which were a bit questionable. For example, some ‘Day of the Dead’ masks were part of the stage decoration for Frida Kahlo’s piece, despite having nothing specifically to do with Frida and instead being part of Mexican culture, which came across as appropriation.

I came away from the show feeling inspired and enthused by the various 

Important messages, which I think are essential for children to hear and are applicable to adults too.

  1. Change is inevitable but as long as you stay true to yourself you will be ok 
  2. Be an ally to other women and understand that together we are more powerful than alone
  3. We all have a voice and have the ability to create positive change

It contains so much for adults and children alike. I recommend this show to anyone who is feeling adrift in life, wants a confidence boost or needs to be told they are fantastic! 

Images courtesy of Pamela Raith Photography via King’s Theatre