With only three months from concept to stage (not even enough time to make the official printed Fringe programme), and just ten days in rehearsals to put it together, Scott Mills The Musical is a remarkable achievement.
Born because of a hoax flyer of the musical started doing the rounds on the internet, the Radio 1 team decided it might be quite a fun idea to actually put on a show and set about developing it with suggestions from their listening audience. They even found their star, How Do You Solve A Problem-style, with a Search For A Scott competition. The winner, Joe Taylor, is a talent to watch out for.
So youd be forgiven then for expecting the resulting product to be a bit of superficial froth made completely from contrived in-jokes, a paper-thin plot designed by committee and terrible musical clichés. None of that is true. Scott Mills The Musical is a surprisingly sophisticated work with brilliant structure and first-class stagecraft. Despite the limited time available to bring it to the Fringe, this could arguably be the best show Ill see this year in Edinburgh.
The story is an imagined one, although taking some cues from actual events. It opens when Scotts show is the 4am slot on Radio 1, and new girl Becky (Laurie Hagen) joins Chappers (John Dryden Taylor) and The One That Doesnt Speak (David Paul West) on the team. Following a night out at the Brits with Kylie (played by real-life Becky from Radio 1, Becky Huxtable), Scott goes on air drunk and is sacked by boss Rob (Guy Lewis). The rest of the story charts his attempts to get back his beloved job as a DJ, much to the chagrin of his boss, Rob, in an Apprentice-style showdown with controller Sir Andy (Andrew Hayler). All of his adventures are overseen and narrated by the real David Hasselhof via video screen from above, while the actual Scott Mills plays Hasselhof on the stage. It can be pretty confusing trying to explain whos playing who when the people they are playing are also characters playing someone else; but thankfully it makes a lot more sense when youre watching it.
Musically, Desmond OConnors score is simply sublime. It is irreverent when it needs to be, but deep and layered when the emotion calls for it. Theres the rolling melody of the opening number, On The Air, the complexity of the trio What Have I Done? and the beauty of If I Could Only Speak (sung by that posh lady from Radio 4, Kathy Clugston). But the numbers that will be most memorable with the audience are the pastiches of Susan Boyles Britains Got Talent audition (with Joe Taylor playing Scott Mills dressed like Susan Boyle) and R.A.D.I.O which thoroughly sends up Village Peoples Y.M.C.A. (and by its reprieve already had fans copying the dance movements in the stalls).
Patrick Wilde deserves much praise for his direction of this über-talented troupe. Its easy to forget none of this actually existed a couple of months ago. Emlyn Dodds writing is brilliantly funny showing a clear understanding of the target audience. That, at the bottom line, is precisely what this show is all about. It started as an audience prank, was developed with audience input and now has been given back to the audience to enjoy. And thats exactly what they did. The house was jam-packed with Scott Mills listeners who, judging from their reaction, quite possibly had the most exciting night of their lives. There was electricity in that auditorium that could power the National Grid.
Any reviewer not giving this show five stars is being totally disingenuous to what was going on up on stage, and the other 300+ people around them. It was simply glorious.
has written 153 reviews for Broadway Baby since joining the team in 2004.