The Howard Goodall season at The Union Theatre reaches its finale with its third instalment,Girlfriends (following the successes of the dreaming and Love Story). Directed by Bronagh Lagan,the musical show about women in WWII, working in the RAF has music and lyrics by Goodall and is based on the book he had written in collaboration with Richard Curtis and John Retallack).
It was commissioned by the Oldham Coliseum Theatre and premiered there in May 1986, followed by performances around the UK and Netherlands, receiving endless praise.
‘Goodall is rather an unsung hero of British musicals. His work is ambitious, interesting and often very powerful... Goodall’s experiment succeeds unquestionably, the result is musically exhilarating.
This is the strongest of the three Goodall offerings the Union has produced this year... This is one of the best musical productions at the Union Theatre in the last five years – and its standard and value underlines the importance of the continued existence of the Union Theatre.’
British Theatre (Stephen Collins), 12 November 2014
‘Marking the final show in the Union’s triumphant Howard Goodall season, Girlfriends is a punchy musical set on an RAF Bomber Command base during World War II. Goodall’s musical has a refreshing quality, the female dominated cast sound sensational when performing together - the sound bounces off the walls of the intimate Union Theatre, and it’s heavenly. Goodall is a musical genius, the love, detail and care that he puts into his work always shines through.’
West End Frame (Andrew Tomlins), 2 November 2014
‘It takes a big public story of the role played by women personnel in the Royal Air Force in the Second World War and makes something intimate, intricate and heartfelt out of it. That’s despite a book that’s overly populated with characters and interactions. But, thanks to Goodall’s score of surging choral anthems, it nevertheless provides a tapestry of emotion in music. Songs such as Before the War and Talk Only of Victory stand out for the beauty of the vocal ensemble, superbly accompanied by Freddie Tapner’s four-strong band.’
The Stage (Mark Shenton), 3 November 2014
‘The music is splendid. Freddie Tapner's five-piece band captures the complexities of Goodall's score beautifully, the melodies merging and separating, repeating, twisting and turning…Those treats for the ear are matched by some of the most ambitious singing I have heard at The Union.’
Broadway World (Gary Naylor), 1 November 2014