The smash-hit stage production of Marvellous is back by popular demand at the New Vic Theatre this month, following a successful first run back in March.
The joyful, entertaining, and hilarious play about the life of local hero Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin has returned to the Basford stage this weekend just gone, and will run until October 8.
Reuniting the original cast, the show gives audiences another chance to discover this popular and critically acclaimed production, and is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face!
A friend to anyone he meets, and unafraid to be his true and authentic self, Nello is an inspiration to the world, and is a living reminder to us all not to let anything stand in the way of your dreams – and that you can choose your own happiness.
I was lucky enough to catch the show for its debut earlier this year – you can read my full review here – and I’m thrilled it’s back for a second run ahead of it moving down to London’s West End.
If you’re yet to have witnessed this beautiful bio-play, which has seen Nello heavily involved from start to finish, then here are nine reasons why you should go and book your ticket to see Marvellous.
Learn about the incredible – or should I say Marvellous – life of a local hero
Growing up in the 1950’s in less enlightened times, Neil Baldwin was ‘not expected to be a success’ – but he decided he was destined to Marvellous things – and some marvellous things he did.
Neil is a man who has more feathers in his cap than was in his chicken costume as Stoke City kit man. He’s been Neil the reverend, the hitchhiker, Nello the clown, Lord Baldwin of Keele, honorary doctorate, BEM, accepted a BAFTA award for the film made about his life and so much more.
Marvellous is a truly life-affirming and inspiring production which delves into Nello’s accomplished and star-studded life.
A critically-acclaimed and inclusive cast
The original and critically-acclaimed cast of Marvellous was actually selected with Neil’s assistance – and the seven strong group of inclusive and neurodiverse actors are back once more to bring Neil’s story to life on stage.
Artistic director Theresa Heskns said: “Whilst many believe that Neil has a disability, Neil himself says he does not. So we came to the decision that we would aim to bring together a neurodiverse cast, each of whom would have the chance to play the man himself.”
Earlier this month Neil took cast members Suzanne Ahmet, Charlie Bence, Gareth Cassidy, Alex Frost, Michael Hugo, Jerone Marsh-Reid and Daniel Murphy to his old stomping ground of Bet365 Stadium to help get back into character ready for the show to reopen. He even pointed out his usual seat where he watches the games.
Neil said: “When I was told we could get all the cast together to visit the ground, I thought that was lovely. It’s my team, I go to nearly every game, I’m glad I was there as kitman and it’s great to be there again. I think some of the cast, although this was their first time there, will be back. I enjoyed heading the ball with Michael Hugo by the pitch. It brought back lovely memories.”
The audience interactivity
Theresa and the team have thought of every possible way they can get the audience immersed in Nello’s story, from passing Neil’s real birth certificate around to handing a box of sweets along the rows of chairs around the auditorium.
Neil is a friend to everyone he meets, and this production sees every single audience member leave a friend of Nello.
Watch the amazing egg trick
Marvellous is full of infectious joy, playful wit, and laugh out loud comedy. A man that’s never taken himself too seriously, all Neil wants is to be happy and to make people laugh, and this play certainly ticks that box en masse.
As a clown, Nello was well known for his amazing egg trick, and you’ll be able to see it recreated by the team in the round. It’s one not to be missed!
Catch it before it hits the West End
Following its performances at the New Vic, Marvellous will transfer to London where it will be the opening production at Soho Place – the first new West End theatre to be built in 50 years.
Catch it at the New Vic Theatre and you’ll be able to say you were one of the first to witness the beautiful bio-play, in Neil’s home-county, before it reached the Big Smoke.
Tickets are cheaper
Not only can you say you saw it during its home run, the tickets are loads cheaper than they’re set to be in Soho. Here in Staffordshire, Tickets for Marvellous cost between £18.50 and £27.50 – and don’t forget the under 26 and under 16 schemes which hand out free tickets to shows. Concessions can also get £2 off while groups can get £2 off for ten or more guests.
In comparison, Soho Place is selling tickets priced between £25 and £65. Catch a home show and support your local, independent theatre in the meantime, too!
Celebrate the Victoria Theatre Company’s 60th anniversary
Speaking of local theatre, this year the Victoria Theatre Company at the New Vic celebrates its 60th year of theatre-making in-the-round in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire.
Theresa Heskins added: “Over the years the New Vic has continually honoured its origins in groundbreaking documentary dramas. The plays in our upcoming season feel like a perfect complement to the company’s 60th anniversary, celebrating all that is unique about our work and in-the-round theatre, none more so than the extraordinary true story of local hero, clown and Stoke City FC kit man Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin. With Marvellous, we have a story that I know will fill us all with such optimism.”
You might even get to see the man himself around the building
When asked what his favourite bit of the play was, Neil responded: “All of it”. So much so that during its debut run back in March, he attended every single showing. For a man of 76 years of age, he’s got a much better social life than me, for sure.
As an avid theatre goer, you’ll likely spot Neil around the venue before the show, and there’s a really touching moment that shines a light on the real real Neil. Be sure to say hello if you do see him, too – he’s always up for a natter.
Words of wisdom and mottos to live by
Marvellous will leave you stepping out of the theatre with a whole new outlook on life. The production beautifully portrays Nello’s absolutely extraordinary life, often in his own words, but there’s one phrase that always sticks with me, and it’s one that everyone should live by.
“I always wanted to be happy, so I decided to be.” – Neil Baldwin.
Marvellous sees his words of wisdom and nuggets of knowledge brought to life on stage where his contagious cheerfulness quickly rubs off on you, and reminds us all to be more Nello.
Marvellous takes to the stage at the New Vic from Saturday, September 17 to Saturday, October 8 2022, before transferring to Soho Place in London. Tickets are on sale now, priced from £18.50 to £27.50.
For more details and to book, call the New Vic Box Office on 01782 717 962 or visit newvictheatre.org.uk.