Marvellous – New Vic Theatre
The long awaited theatre production of Marvellous has finally taken to the stage in a fashion that is fitting to the man on which the play is based. Neil “Nello” Baldwin has spent his life overcoming obstacles and it’s not difficult to see why his story was turned into a BBC film in 2014. This extraordinary man has been a clown, an impossibly brilliant Stoke City kit man, a friend of celebrities and politicians and many other things to many other people. But this is not the film – and if you’ve seen that already, well you must visit the New Vic for a different take on his story.
This show is the process of putting on a show. An expertly executed intertwining of scenes and the process behind them as Nello (Michael Hugo) talks the cast through his life, with all cast taking on a variety of characters throughout. The story skips to key moments in time and recreates them with the masterful and thoroughly entertaining theatre craft that the New Vic has become known for.
Many are fortunate enough to have met Nello at some point, and it must be said that Michael Hugo who is already a very well respected comedy actor, gives an incredible performance as the man himself. Hugo has captured the man, his mannerisms and delivered the comedy which he does so well, but also the poignant moments with such divine capability that this may be the best overall performance that Hugo has produced at the New Vic – and there have been so many.
This professional and hard working cast is exciting and diverse, all taking on the leading role and the various surrounding characters at different stages. There isn’t a weak link in this show.
Charlie Bence comfortably switches between characters throughout, performing with such friendliness and familiarity that is perfect for this play – they are so versatile and engaging to watch.
Suzanne Ahmet returns to the New Vic to give a beautiful portrayal of Nello’s Mum, an experienced actress who oozes quality in every production. As does another local favourite, the hilarious and witty Gareth Cassidy, who brings much light relief with his classic clowning.
Alex Frost, Jerone Marsh-Reid and Daniel Murphy complete a classy and capable group, giving outstanding and endearing performances.
The whole show deals with the issues around Nello’s life with such care and respect, as it ought to be done. Act two deals with the issue of losing his mum with such beauty and empathy that it stops the show in it’s tracks, moving out back into happiness to culminate in a fitting conclusion to the story.
“Marvellous” hangs high above the stage in split large letters and as the letters drop to give the final tribute of the performance to Nello, you can’t help but admire the absolute stage craft that the New Vic Theatre continue to produce. The combination of the unique nature and local connection to this show means that absolutely everybody must go to see it. This is the shining example of how to produce high quality locally inspired theatre. A story that can inspire young and old alike, produced to the highest quality in every aspect.
Don’t expect the film on stage. You’ll be taken on a journey – you’ll laugh, you’ll feel empathy, you’ll be amazed at the real story behind one of Newcastle-under-Lyme’s living legends.
Marvellous plays the New Vic Theatre until Saturday 9th April 2022 – you must buy tickets. To get yours, click here to visit the New Vic Theatre Box Office.