Striking 12 is a modern day musical version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. The score and lyrics were written by Groove Lily, an American trio that seeks to fuse classical music, musical theatre, jazz and rock.
This fusion makes for an eclectic bundle of songs, which surprisingly do mesh well together – but therein lies part of the problem. A musical must not lose sight of the fact that it should be a piece of theatre, enhanced by song – rather than a string of songs, loosely held together by dialogue. Striking 12 feels too much like a vehicle for the musical talents of its cast, whilst the fable at its heart is given only secondary consideration.
Andersen's tale of extinguished hope and dreams may not strike you as the most adaptable to a musical – and you would be right. Alongside the retelling of the story of the little matchstick girl runs a parallel story; of a modern day Scrooge who prefers to spend New Year's Eve at home, rather than with friends and loved ones. However, through reading Andersen's story, our protagonist's heart thaws and he falls for his very own modern matchstick girl (who, in a neat twist, is selling newfangled Christmas lights which combat Seasonal Affective Disorder). But the link between the two stories feels too contrived and the Cinderella-esque happy ending distracts from the original meaning of Anderson's tale.
The musical talents of the five person cast are considerable. Rebecca Bainbridge's violin playing is worth particular mention. And the singing from all is strong. As a musical, it is appealing, especially if you're looking for some Christmas cheer. Just don't go expecting anything other than a jolly and light-hearted night out.
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