The Department of Heaven, a musical by Andrew Hackwill, and directed by Lainie Hart, opened on 10 February for a very brief season finishing on the 13th. It is presented by the Alan Key Collective. Apart from Lainie Hart, I recognised none of he other names (ecept Christine Pawlicki, more of whom later). The musical is set as a cabaret and all the cast members were obviously selected for their skill in microphone work and musicianship which was of a professional standard.
A delightfully dotty story using public service jokes as a basis, concerns the loss of the key to the Pearly Gates, while God has gone off to think about other things. The introductory number set the scene for the rest of the story, opening with an infectious melody sung by Saint Peter (Andrew Hackwill) and joined by a 'barber shop' quartet of Elizabeth I, Rasputin, Lady Godiva and Saint Anthony. Thor enters after this and has at least five costume changes, becoming campier by the minute. Laine Hart is the Fallen Angel dressed in what I thought rather chic black wings. Cleopatra, Rapunzel, Robin Hood, Eve, Sir William Wallace, Lady Macbeth, Sigmeund Freud (treating Lady M!), Alexander the Great. Michelangelo, Julius Caesar (some doubling, here) all made their mark.
The show goes at a cracking pace; not one drop in the tension. Accompanied by pre-recorded music composed and performed by the multi-talented Andrew Hackwill, it kept up enthusiasm of both cast and audience throughout. As for the costumes! Christine Pawlicki has outdone herself: all beautiful and rich-looking - Elizabeth I had at least three/four changes? All stunning crinolines. Wow! I can only hope this show will be taken up by other promoters.
Any downs? Well, I missed some of thr dialogue (my beter hearing companion did too) and it was a shame as words are clever andf funny. But it doesn't take away from the sheer exuberance of the night.