(AD) Fisherman’s Friends the musical: A sea shanty singing success

This blog post is marked as an AD (advert) because I was gifted tickets and a programme free of charge in return for creating this content. I aim to be transparent in order to retain your trust and hope you will continue to support the Thrifty Mumma Thrifty Bubba blog and social media channels.

While Fisherman’s Friends 2: One and all currently shows on the silver screen, Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical is simultaneously treading the boards at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham.

With a Glastonbury performance under their belts and their first film a commercial success, the on stage story of Cornwall’s original ‘buoy band’ is a catch not to be missed!

Centred around the Cornish folk music group formed in 1995, The Fisherman’s Friends are a real life group of Cornish men including working fishermen who sing a capella sea shanties on the Platt at Port Isaac to raise money for charity. Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical charts their journey from singing to and signing with Universal for a cool £1 million.

Music is key to this show. It is a musical in its true form. Full to the brim of rhythmic, collective, choral chants and melodies, you are immediately swept up into the sounds surrounding you. I’ve never been to a show before where the seats are rocking with the rhythm of people tapping their feet along to a steady, shanty beat.

From the get go, the strong, cohesive cast show a sense of common purpose and more than a dash of humour as they belt out “Nelson’s Blood” in its rousing traditional arrangement. It is truly a celebration of collaborative song and every one of the cast plays their part brilliantly from the ever present and highly talented musicians to the harmonising singers.

James Gaddas is perfectly cast as the brooding, moody yet sensitive protagonist Jim. His beautiful, talented daughter Alwyn (Parisa Shahmir) is passionate and protective of the community they share which is shown in the heartfelt number ‘Village by the sea’. Overseen by Jim’s father and Alwyn’s sweet ‘Granfer’ Jago (Robert Duncan) and his loving wife (Susan Penhaligon), it was a pleasure to watch this coupling on stage with her lilting Cornish accent and his comedic timing.

Danny (Jason Langley) with his jarring London accent is the perfect opposite to the Fisherman’s Friends Cornish dialect demonstrated expertly in speech and song by Rowan (Dan Buckley), Leadville (Anton Stephens) and Ben (Dakota Starr) amongst others.

The set is a real star of the show, offering triple use as a Fishing boat, The Golden Lion Inn and London streets. With industrial rigging, rope pulleys and ladders, every inch of the simple yet effective staging is used throughout the play.

Clever lighting conveyed a change of scene, change of weather and change of heart as the cast and crew of the show navigate their way through stormy seas both literally and figuratively.

Particularly mesmerising was the moving fishing boat combined with realistic smoke and sound effects which really gave the illusion of rough seas and high winds – a tough challenge to recreate on stage.

A highlight of the show was a new song, Alwyn’s ‘The Tidal Pool’ both written and sung by Parisa Shahmir. Hauntingly beautiful and ethereal, Shahmir’s voice carried through the waves each crystal clear note, reminiscent of a siren’s song to a sailor.

Often funny, sometimes poignant, Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical will have you laughing your boots off one minute and wiping away a tear the next. This is one high sea feel-good adventure not to be missed!

Deservedly, the show received a standing ovation on its opening night. It was a joy to share the auditorium with such a passionate audience – all singing, jigging and foot-stomping along to centuries old sea shanties which are just as enjoyable now as they were when they were originally sung.

As always, thank you to The Everyman for inviting us to experience the show.

Do you love the Fisherman’s Friends? Have you seen the stage show yet? If so, comment below, say hello and let me know.

Love, Thrifty Mumma X

To find out more about The Fisherman’s Friends please visit: https://thefishermansfriends.com/

To find out more about the Everyman Theatre or to book tickets please visit: https://www.everymantheatre.org.uk

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