Review: The Opinion Makers by Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon at Colchester Mercury until November 9.

Mel Giedroyc inThe Opinion Makers, a new musical, being premiered at the Colchester Mercury Theatre

Mel Giedroyc inThe Opinion Makers, a new musical, being premiered at the Colchester Mercury Theatre - Credit: Archant

The boss is back from America where, he says, they do everything not just bigger but so much better. He’s going to put a bit of this Yankee pizzazz into his struggling marketing firm back here in little old England and take it to the top.

Mel Giedroyc, Justin Edwards and Daniel Boys inThe Opinion Makers, a new musical, being premiered at

Mel Giedroyc, Justin Edwards and Daniel Boys inThe Opinion Makers, a new musical, being premiered at the Colchester Mercury Theatre - Credit: Archant

And it looks as if Fernsby’s on his way when a kilted Scottish millionaire walks into his office anxious to rebrand his ancient family medicament, Doctor Campbell’s Lotion that “cures all that ails ye” - everything it seems from toothache and in-growing toenails to stomach pains and piles.

Mel Giedroyc, Julie Atherton, Stacey Ghent, Benjamin Stratton, Justin Edwards, David Mountfield and

Mel Giedroyc, Julie Atherton, Stacey Ghent, Benjamin Stratton, Justin Edwards, David Mountfield and Daniel Boys in The Opinion Makers, a new musical, being premiered at the Colchester Mercury Theatre - Credit: Archant

The current Campbell, portly, be-whiskered and getting on a bit, has been talked into changing the name and the appeal of the potion by his attractive gold-digging young blonde American wife but Fernsby doesn’t get too much help from his two assistants. Penhall, the guy, is always nipping out to the pub and Lassiter, the girl is useless.

Sent out to do research interviewing people on the streets, they give up and fill in the forms themselves with fictitious names but, with the help of a beatnik friend high on weed (because this is the Sixties), they do come up with a new name, Gemini, and a flash bottle that of course sends sales of the potion plunging. And now they must find a way out of the mess.

It’s a great idea for a musical comedy, especially as the cast is loaded with well-known faces from the West End and telly but it never quite feels like a musical. Yes, at regular intervals, people do step forward and sing – numbers that add to the narrative – yet, played in little sketches, it often has the look and feel of a radio show that has somehow found its way on stage.


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There are no songs you come out humming but they all have a part to play in establishing points or character, some of them quite funny. Julie Atherton, who has appeared in numerous London shows belts You Can Go To Hell; Daniel Boys as Penhall has a good song about drinking and Justin Edwards is the hapless Fernsby who finds time to do a little gentle hoofing as well as singing Friends Are Your Family rather well..

Mel Giedroyc, more often seen presenting The Great British Bake Off, shows that she can dance and carry a number with ease and there’s a very nice performance from David Mountfield as a nutty Member of Parliament as well as playing the Scottish Laird.

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David Henshall.

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