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Leader of the Pack – The Ellie Greenwich Musical at Waterloo East Theatre – ‘likeable’

Leader of the Pack – The Ellie Greenwich Musical at Waterloo East Theatre

Based on the life and career of songwriter Ellie Greenwich, Leader of the Pack is a likeable if formulaic musical biography, in similar territory to current West End hit, Beautiful. The Brooklyn-born writer is portrayed as a talented and ambitious artist, who became part of the Brill Building factory, churning out huge popular hits and creating the Girl Group sound.

As is so often the way with jukebox musicals, the book seems desperately thin with very little conflict to engage its audience emotionally. Greenwich – played by an endearing Abi Finley – marries her partner Jeff Barry at the end of the first act, to the appropriate accompaniment of Going To The Chapel. By the opening of act two, the marriage is on the rocks. Much of the show is dedicated to Greenwich creating her hits – including the creation of the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las – until finally she slows down enough to contemplate her lot with a couple of power ballads.

Despite Finley’s winning performance, it’s the hits that make this show and the cast of mostly actor-musicians do some justice to Greenwich’s back catalogue. It’s just a shame that a weak sound design means that the tight harmonies are all but lost to an overpowering band.

Verdict
Agreeable performances but the band overpowers the vocalists in the tame biopic

Production Information

Production
Leader of the Pack - The Ellie Greenwich Musical
Venue
Waterloo East Theatre
City
London
Starts
October 7, 2015
Ends
October 31, 2015
Press night
October 13, 2015
Authors
Gerald Armin, Peter Rowe (book), Ellie Greenwich and friends (music)
Director
Gerald Armin
Musical director
Bryan Hodgson
Choreographer
Francesca Jaynes
Set
Paul O'Shaughnessy
Lighting
Claire Childs
Sound
Gio Carnazza
Costume
Rebecca Livermore
Technical
Pamela Scherman (production technician)
Cast includes
Abi Finley, Matthew Quinn, Perry Meadowcroft, John Sandberg, Emma Fraser, Lottie-Daisy Francis
Producer
Waterloo East Theatre
Running time
2hrs