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MAGGIE MAY Music and Lyrics by Lional Bart,

Book by Alun Owen

Finborough Theatre, SW10, until 20 April

‘ … beautifully executed and plenty to mull over after the show’




MAGGIE MAY premiered at the Adelphi Theatre in 1964.  This revival has found its ideal home at the Finborough theatre, one of London’s premiere stages for airing political themes with current day resonances.   The exquisite book by Alun Owen, sets the story in historical fact in relation to events at Liverpool docks which gives the show the kind of power rarely felt in musical theatre.  This, plus its sympathetic handling of working-class life and hardships gives the show a gritty edge.


Surely, it’s ‘THE’ MAGGIE MAY.  It is as though she is the figurehead of a ship, in this case a cargo ship with an assignment of guns.  Maggie May, the lady-like street walker longing for a different life, has no power over her own destiny.  Her lover sailor Patrick Casey is destined for greater things.


Upon discovering the guns which are to be used to break the unions in another country, the dock workers are driven to act.  Casey, the son of a unionist martyr is the natural heir to the leadership.  Reluctant at first, he eventually assumes the mantle with tragic consequences.


Everything about this musical is perfect, a calibre usually only achieved with enormous budgets in theatres with full size auditoriums.  Bravo to the producers of MAGGIE MAY, who have a cast of thirteen to pay.  Their risk has really paid off.    


Fitting this musical into the Finborough’s more modest space is beautifully achieved.  Well done to choreographer Sam Spencer Lane for such exciting dynamic moves, executed skilfully by the cast.  Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role has a beautiful voice, a delight to hear, and James Darch as Patrick Casey has all the charm of a young Richard Gere.  The peripheral characters are strongly drawn with David Keller as staunch Irish unionist Old Dooley, obsessed with past struggles, stealing the scenes.  He stands in contrast to the younger men, and provides a conflict between them, which might have been comical if it had been drawn by a less skilled actor.  


Finally, often overlooked, the sound design by Philip Matejtschuk and lighting design by Jonathan Simpson are impeccable, not intrusive but creating just the right amount of atmosphere.  


Wonderful songs, and plenty to mull over after the show, the ethics of arms deals, female empowerment and the like.  Highly recommended.  




MAGGIE MAY at Finborough Theatre

SOLD OUT Returns only

BOX OFFICE: Call 01223 357 851 or book online at


Director Matthew Iliffe

Set & Costume Design Verity Johnson

Choreography Supervision Sam Spencer-Lane

Musical Director Henry Brennan

Lighting Design Jonathan Simpson

Sound Design Philip Matejtschuk

Assistant Director Sophie Drake

Casting Debbie O’Brien Casting

Maggie May Kara Lily Hayworth

Patrick Casey James Darch

Willy Morgan Mark Pearce

Maureen O’Neill Natalie Williams

Judder Johnson Michael Nelson

Terry Collins Barnaby Taylor

Balladeer/Milkman Aaron Kavanagh

Niece/Ensemble Chloe Carrington

Gene Kierman Leon Kay

Eric Dooley Euan Bennet

Norah Mulqueen Cathy McManamon

Stevedore/Sailor/Ensemble Joshua Barton

Old Dooley David Keller



Reviewer Heather Jeffery is founder and Editor of London Pub Theatres Magazine @pubtheatres1 (Email:  

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