Review – Eugenius!

Audiences really, really love this new home-grown musical. When, if ever, do you go to a new musical with original songs and find the audience not just clapping along but singing along and even joining in the choreography? Not surprisingly this all concludes with a genuinely spontaneous standing ovation.

Eugenius! tells the story of teenage geek Eugene (Rob Houchen) who devotes most of his time to avoiding facing the death of his mother by creating a comic in which Tough Man (Simon Thomas – catchphrase: tough, but fair), seeks to rid the universe of his evil twin (Lord Hector -Neil McDermott). Janey (Laura Baldwin), his would-be girlfriend, and best mate Ferris (Daniel Buckley) stand-up for Eugene in the face of bullying from school mates and go with him to Hollywood to see his characters brought to life in a movie when he wins a competition. Seedy producer Lex Hogan (Alex Bourne) is all set to exploit and spoil Eugene’s creation until the real Evil Lord Hector arrives on set and causes mayhem by not realising he’s in a movie.

Eugenius! doesn’t have a particularly strong message relevant to our times, other than a very simple one about believing in one’s dreams and accepting people for who they are (see also Kinky Boots, School of Rock, Jamie, Billy Elliot etc. etc.), but this simplicity and honesty are at least part of the key to its charm. Equally significant in its winning way with audiences are some fantastically catchy songs and a cast which throws itself into everything with energy, enthusiasm and skill.

Daniel Buckley as our hero’s best friend Ferris successfully steals every scene he’s in. It’s how a young Tom Cruise could have been if he wasn’t cool. Laura Baldwin as Janey captures the angst of being in the ‘friend zone’ when she wants so much more from Eugene, whilst also being allowed to display some serious singing chops. Scott Paige, as the assistant to Hollywood producer Lex Hogan who spots Eugene’s potential, is as camp as it gets, but in the process gives a masterclass in how to get the most laughs out of a part through the clever use of subtle looks, glances and gestures. At this point I must admit to having seen the previous version of Eugenuis! earlier in the year and the nuances of Scott’s performance have really come through in this latest version. New to the cast this time is Neil McDermott as Evil Lord Hector. He becomes increasingly manic as the story progresses and in doing so brings increased hilarity and it must be said a sense of danger to proceedings. Alex Bourne as seedy Hollywood mogul Lex Hogan is just great – and since the Harvey Weinstein  revelations his comeuppance is only to be expected.

Eugenius! is nothing more or less than it appears to be – a fun story with winning characters and really great tunes. What else do you need from a musical? It deserves to be more than the cult success it undoubtedly is (the run at The Other Palace has been extended to 20 October) so I heartily recommend this brilliant, tuneful and winning musical. Let’s make it a hit!

Sue in the Stalls attended courtesy of

Eugenius! is at The Other Palace until 20 October 2018.


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