It has taken five years to reach the stage but now a new musical based on the movie The Parent Trap has landed at The Lowry in Salford. The director, Sir Trevor Nunn, whose ambition it was to adapt the film, takes the helm but will he reach the heights of his previous productions including Cats, Les Misérables and Chess?
The beginning augured well. My eight-year-old daughter and I were captivated from the moment the curtain came up, instantly transported to an alpine summer camp and quickly introduced to the main characters of the show, Lisa and Lottie, played by real-life identical twins Kyla and Nicole Fox.
Identical is based on Erich Kästner’s novel Das Doppelte Lottchen, later made into the 1961 film The Parent Trap starring Hayley Mills and remade in 1988 with Lindsay Lohan, which sees two identical twins separated as babies who meet at a summer camp and eventually swap places and lives.
It was not hard to feel an instant connection to the girls, who share a mutual dislike, but after spending time together they quickly fill in gaps about their lives and realise they not only look alike, but are actually twins separated at birth. Their love for each other quickly grows. As it does, we are introduced to a number of catchy musical numbers (musical work by Stiles and Drewe) including the heartwarming You’re my Sister, which is re-visted several times.
Lisa and Lottie come up with a plan to swap lives, so each of them can meet the parents they have never known and have longed to meet. And so summer camp comes to an end and off they both go to their respective new homes in Vienna and Munich, meeting their parents, and adjusting to their new lives, which are polar opposites.
There are many uplifting and comedic moments throughout the play and wonderful performances from the twins’ parents – Emily Tierney as Lisalotte and James Darch as Johan, as well as housekeeper Roza, played by Louise Gold, and Johan’s love interest Miss Garlach, portrayed by Gabrielle Lewis-Dobson.
Towards the end of the second half there is a wonderful ballet performance of Hansel and Gretel by Miss Garlach, who plays the role of the witch and subsequently haunts Lottie in her dreams, as she grows increasingly upset about her father’s relationship with the ballet dancer. But the second half is where the musical picks up pace and the secret swap is finally revealed, which leads to a wonderfully emotional performance by the girls’ mum, Lisalotte.
It is hard not to shed a tear as the musical draws to a close and the girls see their parents come together for the first time. Meanwhile, the staging by Robert Jones and video design by Douglas O’Connell deserve praise, transporting the audience from summer camp to Munich, Vienna and the ballet in such a simplistic but lifelike way. The young performers, Kyla and Nicole, had us drawn into the antics of Lisa and Lottie from the moment we set eyes on them and we couldn’t help but fall in love with these gorgeous girls.
This is a delightful, must-see musical and one which my daughter has not stopped talking about.
Images by Pamela Raith
Identical is at The Lowry in Salford until September 3, 2022. For tickets, click here.