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Fisherman's Friends The Musical - Nottingham Review

Cast off and join the joyous Fisherman's Friends The Musical and escape to Cornwall to banish any winter blues as the show arrives at Nottingham's Theatre Royal.
The cast of Fisherman's Friends The Musical. Photo by Pamela Raith

The show is based on the true events of Cornwall's biggest buoy band as a group of unassuming fishermen are talented spotted during their weekly singing on their village platt in Port Isaac. The group set sail on a reluctant journey to fame. 

The story of the group has already inspired two film adaptations and sits perfectly on the stage with folk songs and sea-shanties at the core. The music of the group is given a magnificent new life on stage performed by on-stage musicians and a cast who are all simply outstanding. You can't help but stomp along with the excellent sound that is created both vocally and musically. 

The show opens with an impressive fishing sequence, it leaves you instantly wowed by the staging and the setting. The effective way the sequence manages to convey being at sea with lights, sound, haze, and performance set the scene for what follows throughout. Lucy Osborne's design is slick, whether we're out to sea, in The Golden Lion pub, or in a London gay bar Osborne creates a great visual landscape that manages to transport you to Cornwall and beyond. Tremendous lighting by Johanna Town and sound by Dan Samson adds layers of texture and atmosphere to moments.

Amanda Whittington's feel-good book gives you fantastically well-rounded characters and an uplifting story that sweeps along at a great pace. Each character feels more developed on stage than it does in the screen version and that adds more heart and emotion to the journey. There are plenty of Cornish references and little modern jokes such as The Wellerman is referred to as "it'll never catch on".

The cast of Fisherman's Friends The Musical. Photo by Pamela Raith.

Understudy Dominic Brewer stepped into the role of Danny, the London ex-artist manager who is in Cornwall for a wedding and spots the band, he is a superbly likeable figure who doesn't give up on the band when all doors are shut in his face, he also carries the lies and deceiving that he has to do. Fia Houston-Hamilton excels as Leah, the music mogul who just isn't convinced by the band and constantly keeps rebuffing Danny's approaches.

James Gaddas does a magnificent job as stern lead singer Jim. Gaddas is brilliantly unshifting in the face of Danny's approaches and determination to drive forward with recording an album. Robert Duncan brings warmth and soul to Jago, Jim's father and aging fisherman on the verge of retirement. He is matched wonderfully by Susan Penhaligon as wife Maggie who is just lovely to watch. 

The rest of the band is made up of Pete Gallagher understudying as Leadville, Dan Buckley as Rowan, Hadrian Delacey as Archie, Martin Carroll understudying Wiggy and Dakota Starr as Ben and you have a dazzling set of Fisherman's Friends. Hazel Monaghan is excellently voiced as Sally, the partner of Buckley's Rowan. Together the pair face the uncertain future of The Golden Lion as well as balancing their newborn.

The voices of the band blend beautifully together, the harmonies soar and glue together to create these wonderful moments of music throughout. Having the musicians on stage under musical director James William-Pattison is a great touch and adds to the whole ambiance of the show and the sound they create is world-class in the sound they create. The musicianship is as strong as you can see on any stage around the world. Louisa Beadel is particularly superb on percussion, with great flair and energy. 

Of all the above fantastic performances the star of the show is Parisa Shahmir as Alywn, Jim's daughter. Shahmir has one of the best voices I've ever heard on any stage, it's angelic in its beautiful tone and the delivery is breathtaking to soak up. She plays the role with confidence and balances a variety of emotions with real skill. Her two big solo songs are original numbers with the lovely 'Village By The Sea' written by James Findlay and the self-penned 'The Tidal Pool'. Shahmir showcases real star quality and will go undoubtedly go on to do many great things

Fisherman's Friends is full of soul and the voices are exceptional. The sense of community that runs through the piece feels uniquely Cornish. The show deserves to be the next big British musical hit. It is worth dropping anchor for a few hours leaving your troubles at the door and enjoying a couple of hours of seaside heaven. Fun, feel good and full of heart.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fisherman's Friends The Musical plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Saturday 4th February. Tickets are available from The tours continues with dates booking through until Spring 2023. Visit for full details and tour dates.

The outstanding Parisa Shahmir as Alwyn. Photo by Pamela Raith.

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