REVIEW: JULIE: The Musical, Le Gasp! and Croft & Dye Productions (The Other Palace Studio)

If ever there were a woman worth writing a musical about it’s Julie D’Aubigny; the sword-swinging, opera-singing, convent-burning bisexual whose scandalous adventures were the talk of 17th Century Paris. And now, over 300 years after her death, this chaotically complex character can even add Offies finalist to her list of achievements. Riding high on the back of a nomination for Best New Musical at the Off West End Awards 2024, JULIE: The Musical returns to The Other Palace for a very limited three week run.

It’s a fantastically quirky show featuring a talented cast of actor musicians, who between them play an impressive array of instruments including accordion, cello and spoons! And while it’s an extremely funny production it also has real heart, doing justice to a fascinating figure as well as having a lot to say about people being unashamedly themselves.

Image credit: Ben Wilkin

Le Gasp! Productions pride themselves on making “bold new musicals in strange new ways”, telling the stories that they (as a group of neurodivergent creatives) want to hear. And it’s a successful approach – it’s clear that the cast are having an absolute ball on stage, making for a lively atmosphere in the intimate studio setting at The Other Palace.

As a rock/pop musical about a historical female figure, JULIE: The Musical will inevitably invite comparisons with SIX but it’s a very different, less polished, piece. It’s intentionally quite chaotic, with the narrative not coming out in a particularly linear way – It’s Julie’s story and she (brilliantly played by Sam Kearney-Edwardes) tells it in her own inimitable fashion, with the rest of the cast multi-roling around her.

Abey Bradbury in JULIE: The Musical. Image credit Ben Wilkin

If I were to make one complaint, it’s that some people are just disgustingly talented and it’s not fair! Abey Bradbury is a joy to watch as Thevenard, bringing an infectious energy to the stage throughout the show, and even providing some additional interval entertainment. As if that wasn’t enough, Bradbury is the brains behind the production; not only did they write and produced it but, for good measure, they’re also the musical director!

Overall, JULIE: The Musical is brilliantly entertaining musical that shines a light on an exceptional woman who dared to be different. It may not be quite to everyone’s tastes but that’s rather the point. It’s messy, joyful and unapologetically unconventional.

JULIE: The Musical plays at The Other Palace Studio from 13 to 30 June 2024. We received complimentary press tickets to the performance on 13 June.

Image credit: Ben Wilkin