doc

Scoring a goal for girl power, Bend It Like Beckham the Musical bounded into the West End’s Phoenix Theatre last week.

The audience is immediately swept into the vibrant, bustling world of Jess, a Sikh teenager from Southall, who is faced with a dilemma: chase her dream of becoming a footballer or go to university and get married, as her family wishes. Jess’ struggles were depicted brilliantly through careful directing by Gurinder Chadha, who also directed the original 2002 film of the same name.

A strong theme of female empowerment runs throughout the production, carried by the excellent cast of actors including Natalie Dew as Jess, Lauren Samuels as Jess’ friend Jules, Preeya Kalidas as Jess’ sister Pinky, football coach Joe played by Jamie Campbell Bower and the team of energetic footballers who fist pump, high-kick and leap their way across the stage.

The score, by Howard Goodall, coupled with clever lyrics by Charles Hart provided moments of poignancy against the big, joyful dance numbers, and the mesmeric voices of heritage singers Shahid Khan and Rekha Sawhney were absolutely beautiful.

Admittedly, I was unsure whether the film - which I loved as a teenager - would work as a musical but this show was a delight to watch, thanks in part to Miriam Buether’s dazzling set design and Katrina Lindsay's’s gorgeous costumes. A burst of confetti showered the audience during the finale, and the tireless cast received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, until October 24, Monday to Saturday 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees 2.30pm. Details: 0843 316 1082, phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk