Newcastle Theatre Royal, 11/10/2022
Fresh from a world premiere performance in Cornwall, new show Fisherman’s Friends – The Musical is embarking on its first ever UK tour! Based on the 2019 film of the same name, this true story is about a group of fisherman from Port Issac, Cornwall who spend their Friday evenings singing together in a local pub until they are noticed by an unexpected music scout filled with promises he might not be able to keep.
We were invited to attend one of the first stops on the tour in Newcastle Theatre Royal where the show has dropped its anchor for a week. Read on for 5 reasons why you should see Fisherman’s Friends – The Musical…
1. The voices
So many of the songs are performed almost completely a capella, if not backed by very few non-intrusive instruments. The voices of the individual performers are excellent in their own right, but when the 9-strong group of fishermen harmonise together the classic sea shanties you may know, the sound is celestial. Ringing out around the auditorium, you can’t help but be in awe of the sound you’re hearing, making the hairs on your arms stand on end as you’re engulfed in the beautiful collection of voices.
2. It’s stuffed with sea shanties
From starboard to port side, this show is FULL of shanties. There’s some you may recognise (‘John Kanaka’, ‘Little Liz (I Love You)’ and ‘(What shall we Do with the) Drunken Sailor’ to name a few) and others that’s you may not have heard before but still land with such an impact. The amount of songs in the show gives it such great pace and really doesn’t allow the flow to miss a beat. You aren’t given time to want for another song as there’s another that’s already begun before that thought crosses your mind.
3. There’s so much heart
Community is a key theme throughout this story, from the very beginnings of the fishermen of Port Issac village singing together in the local pub to the entire community coming together at times of need, this lesson of being there for one another really solidified itself in this story. The warmth and humour of the script have you taken in from the first few minutes of the show and you’re supporting the entire group thereafter. The story has all the elements you would want from a comfort show like this and will have you smiling from ear to ear.
4. Its so unique
As far as we are aware, there aren’t enough sea shanty musicals to form a genre of theatre! Not only is the music style unique but the integration of the band into the cast is something we haven’t seen in many shows either. During many scenes the band will be a part of the ensemble of a crowded pub interacting one moment as townsfolk then picking up their instruments to accompany the lead cast in the next number, once again the feel of community being expressed even in the way the show is built.
5. It’s such fun
Throughout the entire show, the scenes are light hearted and have many one-liners and funny quips woven into them but not to a level of overkill either. The whole cast create such likeable characters of the real people they are based on, you empathise and root for each one. As the fisherman group (or buoy band) start their journey together there’s such a camaraderie between them too that has you hanging on their every word and wishing you were the tenth member!
This show really is something special. There’s nothing really out there quite like it; we would compare it to a full evening of the feeling of ‘Heave Away’ for any fans of Come From Away. Expect to be tapping your feet, filled with happiness and awe, and to be moved in ways no show has done before. Don’t miss your opportunity to see it in Newcastle where it is only showing until Saturday 15th October then continuing on its first UK tour. Get your tickets by clicking here!