Review: The Secret Society of Leading Ladies, Barn Theatre


 RATING: ★★★★★

The Barn Theatre has been one of the best sources of theatre content during the pandemic as they continue to come up with inventive ways to offer shows online. In perhaps their most creative project yet, their latest show is a sort of choose-your-own-adventure concert: "The Secret Society of Leading Ladies." Conceived of and directed by Ryan Carter, it lets the audience put together their own concert line-up as they go and choose from lots of different types of leading lady characters. 

So how does it work? The audience will see five different "Choose Your Player" screens as they navigate through the concert that allows you to choose a character and song. There are fourteen different performances in the concert lineup, allowing for 150 different combinations, before a finale with all fourteen performers. There are also cute interactions between the characters in between songs. The concert lasts for about a half hour and while I would happily have watched more, it makes sure you never get tired of the format. 

The songs come from shows ranging from "Mean Girls" to "The Wizard of Oz" to "Fame." You can choose to hear some of your favorite songs or discover something new that you've not heard before. (I consider myself a pretty intense musical theatre fan and there were still a couple that I wasn't familiar with.) 

Aisha Jawando's "Last Midnight" from "Into the Woods" absolutely floored me not just with her great vocals, but also her fantastic acting choices. I love Aoife Clesham's rendition of one of my favorite songs, "The History of Wrong Guys" from "Kinky Boots." 

Jarnéia Richard-Noel's "I Didn't Plan It" from "Waitress" was another highlight for me, especially as someone who has seen the show but doesn't listen to the cast album and had sort of forgotten about the song. I also love Jocasta Almgill's absolutely electric "Everybody's Girl" from "Steel Pier," a show that I had never heard of before. 

All in all, there isn't a single bad performance as all the women nail their songs and their characters. The show is also very impressively put together, with each singer performing on a stage with a brick background that really does lend a concert feel. The videography by Jamie Scott-Smith is stellar, as is the editing by Ben Evans and sound engineering by Harry Smith.  I also especially love that each woman wears an outfit inspired by the character she's portraying. 

You can buy a one-show ticket and watch the concert through once or you can buy a multi-show ticket that allows you to watch the concert again and choose different performances. I absolutely love how creative this idea is and I'd love to see the Barn Theatre do a "Secret Society of Leading Men" concert next.  

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Barn Theatre website. "The Secret Society of Leading Ladies" runs until March 7. 

I was given a press ticket to this show for the purposes of review, but all opinions are my own. 

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