Review: I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical

Alexander S. Bermange's new show is a love letter to the musical

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Theatre has long been associated with magic, with the Victorian stage frequently playing host to conjurers and illusionists. I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical, a satirical new show by Alexander S. Bermange at Wilton’s Music Hall, London, fresh from a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe, celebrates that magic, dancing through the joys of the genre in 70 minutes.

The show comprises an ensemble cast of Jennifer Caldwell, Sev Keoshgerian, Rhidian Marc and Julie Yammanee, who embody a host of archetypes, from eager drama students to obsessive fans to (in a particularly impressive turn by Caldwell) seasoned divas. They deliver genuinely breathtaking performances, each showcasing exceptional vocal ranges and skills that will have you counting how long they can hold a high note (spoiler: a very long time).

References range from classics like The Sound of Music, Les Misérables and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to more recent hits, including Wicked, Mamma Mia! and Hamilton, borrowing elements from the political tragedy and the contemporary jukebox musical alike. With immensely clever writing, it utilises the structure of the genre, from the opening chorus to the encore, to delve into the form, its subject matter ranging from poor theatre etiquette to the struggle to earn a living in a precarious field to strained relationships with co-stars.

Some of the show’s many laughs depend on a certain level of knowledge of musical theatre – who Idina is, what ASM stands for and the difference between a soundtrack and a cast album – but these references suggest the winking of shared fandom, not the scoffing of snobbery. On the contrary, it dispenses of exclusivity entirely, with one number celebrating the musical’s more unlikely devotees, from football fans to metalheads to serious theatre critics.

“Who spends even more going to shows than on the household bills they pay? Who uses their long journey to work to belt out showtunes all the way?” sings Yammanee in the opening of Superfan – and those nodding in agreement are the audience for whom the show was created. But the title track – a quiet, moving piece performed by Caldwell – will resonate with anyone who has ever had to balance a deeply held dream with the realities of modern life.

The musical stands in for many things throughout the show, from a source of escapism in which the well-worn formula offers comfort in an uncertain world, to a job with the same attendant stresses as any other career, to the culminations of years of hard work and determination. The form is presented as everything from the aspirational to the mundane, and it is this combination of adoration and honesty that makes the show so enjoyable.

If you’re “a loudly crazy, proudly stagey superfan” – or just someone who enjoys witty writing, superb performances and art from the heart – Bermange and his cast promise an unforgettable night at the theatre.

I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical is at Wilton’s Music Hall, London until 9 September. Tickets are available at

Image: Julie Yammanee, Rhidian Marc, Jennifer Caldwell and Sev Keoshgerian. Photo by Rod Penn

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