Since finding chart success with McFly, Tom Fletcher has carved out a career as a YouTube star, children’s author and all-round pop mensch. Now he’s brought his family and former bandmates together to present a somewhat ragged but nevertheless heartwarming musical version of his bestseller The Christmasaurus.
The joke at the beginning, relayed via video link, is that Fletcher has lost his band and ensemble to traffic delays and has to rely on family and friends to plug the gaps. So the show starts as a stripped-back affair on a bare stage, until Father Christmas saves the day by conjuring up the set, band, dancers et al.
The story proper centres on the adventures of a wheelchair-using boy William Trundle (the excellent Archie Blomfield), who wishes for a dinosaur for Christmas and gets more than he bargained for when he meets the mythical Christmasaurus (a large puppet T-rex adorned with fairy lights).
Fletcher has written a number of songs for the stage version. The tunes are perfectly bop-along-able, but as the show is being staged in the cavernous Eventim Apollo most of the lyrics get lost in the loud amplification.
The brazen nepotism of the whole thing grates a little. When Fletcher – who plays the single father of William – croons a duet with his wife Giovanna, who plays the mother of school bully Brenda (played with spirit by his sister Carrie Hope Fletcher), it’s cheesier than a Neal’s Yard hamper.
But hey, this is Christmas and such unashamed displays of hokey sentiment are par for the course. Plus, the infectious enthusiasm of the whole thing largely compensates for the narrative flaws in Fletcher and Miranda Larson’s overly-convoluted adaptation. And there’s plenty of impressive spectacle in Derek Bond’s production, from the flight of William and the Christmasaurus to McFly band-mate Harry Judd’s Strictly-winning dance skills.
Although this may be no match for The Snowman, either story-wise or musically, it’s nevertheless a warm-hearted and high energy family festive offering.