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‘Each performance is well worth seeing’: SECRET SOCIETY OF LEADING LADIES – Barn Theatre (Online review)

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is the latest initiative from the Barn Theatre and it gives you, the viewer, the power to create your own concert.

With over 150 possible combinations of the 14 performances on offer, you can have hours of fun bringing characters from different shows together, segueing from the kitchen of Waitress to the shoe factory of Kinky Boots, or from Into the Woods to Chicago’s women’s prison.

Each performance is well-worth seeing, but you will enjoy any combination you choose: I found some talented new performers I hadn’t seen before, and a couple of intriguing musicals I still need to seek out.

These ladies have been summoned to their secret society (based at the Union Theatre’s auditorium) but it doesn’t matter who by or why. The fun is in the choosing and the idea of bringing this group together.

You have two options when you purchase a ticket to this show: allowing you to experience one special concert or to watch as many combinations as you like on a day pass. Can you tick off all the characters?

It takes at least three run-throughs to see all 14 ladies: you get a choice at five points in the 25-minute show and 45 seconds to make a decision; otherwise a random choice is made for you.

We’ve seen this kind of interactive choice in digital shows before (notably in Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown), but the Secret Society idea takes it further, with each introductory or linking bit being recorded by different performers to give the sense of your own personal concert.

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a lot of fun, the characters are well-chosen, and the performers pleasingly diverse. Curiously one musical, Mean Girls, is represented twice, but otherwise there is a good mix of classic and new shows.

This is a treat for musical theatre lovers and a celebration of female characterisation across the genre. With feisty, sweet, and sentimental ladies all represented there is something for all, and it is all seamlessly presented by editor Ben Evans, videographer Jamie Scott-Smith, and sound engineer Harry Smith

Created and directed by Ryan Carter (one of the creative forces behind last year’s Turn Up), Secret Society boasts the combined talents of Jocasta Almgill, Lauren Byrne, Kayla Carter, Aoife Clesham, Allie Daniel, Abbi Hodgson, Aisha Jawando, Claudia Kariuki, Natalie Kassanga, Emma Kingston, Kayleigh McKnight, Ellie Mitchell, Jarneia Richard-Noel, and Kelly Sweeney.

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies runs from 22 February-7 March and tickets can be purchased here.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Secret Society of Leading Ladies.

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