REVIEW: The Raven: A Superhero Musical, The Customs House, South Shields, Until Friday, February 6

SUPER STORY ...The Raven: A Superhero Musical is at the Customs House, in South Shields.
SUPER STORY ...The Raven: A Superhero Musical is at the Customs House, in South Shields.

A SUPERHERO story laced with musical numbers is right up my street.

The Raven: A Superhero Musical is inspired by the comics of Marvel and DC and the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven.

It follows tortured playboy millionaire Adrian Crane (Afnan Iftikhar) who, after his parents are killed, becomes The Raven in the hope of keeping the city of Metrogoth safe from the evils that lurk within it.

The songs, penned by South Shields teacher Andrew Richardson, are fantastic.

Each number is catchy and memorable and highlights the personality of the characters fantastically.

The story is great too and the show is very tongue-in-cheek – it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There were parts of it that I absolutely loved, but parts of it were a little cringe-worthy too.

The identity of some of the characters was a little confusing as well, in particular with Sarah Sparrow (Leonie Richardson).

When she first appears on the stage, she’s telling Detective Wayne (Shane Rice) that the citizens of Metrogoth need to learn to trust The Raven, rather than fear him, and that she wants to spread the word of his heroism, leading to the obvious conclusion that she’s the Lois Lane or Vicki Vale of the piece.

However, she next appears wearing a lab coat and the audience learns she is an employee of Crane Industries, a science-type company that our hero is the head of. I’m not sure what she was going to do to assure the public.

Iftikhar is fantastic as tortured soul Crane, and his singing voice is gorgeous, but if his face wasn’t hidden behind a mask, it was by his floppy hair – I wanted to walk up to the stage and brush it back.

The story’s villains came in the form of Dr Vincent Reaper (Lucas Kennerley), The Nightflier (Anthony Roberts) and henchman Marlow (Ben Jacques), and they were deliciously evil.

They too weren’t taken too seriously, and their rib-tickling dance routines were brilliant.

Although Kennerley needs to work on his prop-handling. In one scene, he shoots a character, but rather than continuing to hold the gun by the handle, he grabs it by the barrel and waves it around as he’s talking.

A stand-out performance in the show came from Rice as the bumbling detective, who breaks the fourth wall by speaking to the audience, and flailed his arms about in a goofy way that had everyone chuckling.

One scene in a classroom just didn’t seem right either. It supposedly takes place in a university, but cast members act more like pubescent, rebellious comprehensive pupils who make quips about their teacher’s personal hygiene, rather than young adults studying for a degree. The school uniforms they were wearing didn’t help either.

Supporting actors often play multiple roles, but Iftikhar being in this scene as a student was a little distracting from the story. Understandably, it was a small cast, but he wasn’t needed in this scene.

Overall, I really did enjoy the show. It was smart, funny, the fight scenes were very well choreographed and it had all the things you’d expect; the battle between good and evil, twists and turns, and a good old-fashioned love story.

It’s a real family show too and the kids in the audience loved it.

The set, made up of a bit of scaffolding and paintings of buildings, could have been better, but it didn’t really detract from the overall show.

It has a real feel-good factor and huge potential to be brilliant, but something about it just didn’t quite feel stage ready.

The younger members of the audience may not feel the same way though. It went down a storm with them, even bringing them to their feet in a standing ovation as the cast took a bow.

The Raven: A Superhero Musical is at the Customs House again tonight. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVicki