In the final stages of production, Eugenius! had its premiere in concert form in front of an enthusiastic audience at the London Palladium. Telling the tale of a teenaged comic book geek dreaming of making it big with his originally named characters Tough-man and Super Hot Lady. With the encouragement of his love interest, luck is in his favour and his story is taken on by a Hollywood studio where it is swiftly adapted beyond recognition. Little did he know that when the characters appeared to him in a dream they were in fact depicting real life aliens and before long Evil Lord Hector, played brilliantly by Warwick Davis, is crashing the shoot and plotting ‘Tough-man's’ demise.
Eugenius! seems on first appearances to be a standard teen romance with the predictable rise of the underdog, but with the presence of a spaceship it takes on a rather bizarre, alternative identity. I’m reliably informed that the musical is littered with 80s references, which may well be lost on younger audiences, as well as plenty to keep superhero fans entertained. It feels like it would appeal to a younger audience, even if they are oblivious to all the pop culture references from the era and to the many sexual innuendos.
The stellar cast shine on stage and the lack of costume and sets does not detract from their skilled performances. David Bedella as the director is confident and domineering, his assistant, Samuel Holmes, brilliantly comic in a more subtle style than Daniel Buckley’s Feris, who gives an excellent comedic performance. The choir and dancers from Arts Ed and Laine Theatre Arts are well directed to create atmosphere and touches of humour.
The dialogue and songs were on occasion stilted or overly cheesey but I can’t deny I’ve had ‘Go Eugenius, go Eugene!’ from the theme song stuck in my head all day. Kudos is due also to the musicians who successfully transported the audience to another world.
An ambitious new musical that takes a refreshing step away from the standard fare on offer in recent years. This is a high energy, fun production that certainly has potential. I’ll be interested to see what they do with it in full production.