Overall: A clearly talented cast and crew but Exposure needs to feel less polished and a bit more fun.
Exposure the Musical, at St James Theatre, is a look at the world of celebrity and morals. Our protagonist is Jimmy (David Albury), a young photographer haunted by his late father Ben’s (Kurt Kansley) talent and death in an unspecified foreign country as he reunited with his now famous popstar friend Pandora (Niamh Perry) and enters a Faustian pact with her manager Miles Mason (Michael Greco) to expose the modern seven deadly sins. It also looks at the art of photography and the exploitation is naturally causes, not just paparazzi but war photography.
As a production is a bit too by the number. It relies heavily on video, very apt and skilled video though there were minor technical problems when I attended, but it doesn’t feel like an extravagant musical as a result. The cast are talented and it is clear that the creative team of Phil Willmott and Mike Dyer are very skilled and know what works but as a result at times it seems to be many different stories and numbers thrown together. The numbers range drastically in style and a lot of songs are crammed into the first half that you wonder if this should be Exposure the Opera but unlike a lot of modern musicals the songs stay with you, I particularly enjoyed ‘M.I.L.E.S M.A.S.O.N’ and ‘Love Comes Knocking’.
It also features some lovely acting performances, highlights include Natalie Anderson as Tara, the charming homeless lady that Jimmy falls for, who is best known for Emmerdale but I hope continues to appear on the stage, Kurt Kansley as Ben has a stunning voice in far too small a role, Niamh Perry as Pandora and surprisingly Michael Greco, who plays the devilish Miles Mason. They are well supported by a strong ensemble (There are lot of triple threats to watch out for) but it just feels too slick so any sense of fun is never built up, instead choosing to focus on very serious issues like abortion. It seems unsure if it wants to be a serious play about the woe that is modern fame or a showcase for some quite catchy songs.
Ultimately it is fun night in a stunning theatre and provides a nice alternative to the many imported musicals in London right now. It would be delightful to see a British-bred musical succeed on its own terms.
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