Henry Fraser took a dive into the sea whilst on holiday in Portugal with his brothers. Described in this musical portrayal of inspirational young man as a ‘sliding doors’ moment. From that day forth he is paralysed from the shoulders down and discovers a new self as an artist, painting with a stylus in his mouth. A true story that is more about how families and particularly men in families find it hard to talk about their feelings when faced with crises in their lives.

Being true to the story whilst opening up to the hope for disability is where this new musical soars. With a first-time combination of composer/lyricist Nick Butcher and lyricist Tom Ling they have struck gold. The songs are varied, memorable and character driven and like all great musicals makes you want to listen to them again. And then add a cheeky and witty book by Joe White containing so many laugh-out-loud moments and you have a hit that is full of life. With Luke Sheppard sharp direction and evocative lighting and video design by Howard Hudson and Luke Halls the Sohoplace is transformed into a colourful arena of fun and tears.

From the moment that Henry (post accident) circles the open stage in his wheelchair and addresses the audience with a charm and cheeky confidence, you are hooked. Then we see Henry (pre-accident) and discover that what we are seeing is the two sides of Henry, the side that is fighting to make a new life and side that struggles for move on from the past that had so many prospects. This could have been cheesy, but with wonderful performances from Ed Larkin and Jonny Aimes their story becomes one of hope and joyous celebration.

His brothers played by Jamie Chatterton, Cleve September and Jordan Benjamin show all the awkwardness of siblings that truly love each other but find it hard to say so, often providing both hilarious and touching moments. His mother and father played brilliantly by Linzi Hateley and Alasdair Harvey find that caring for Henry is driving then apart and Linzi’s song One to Seventeen sung through tears as she finds out about Henry’s paralysis is a highlight. It is interesting that the two stand out moments are given to other characters. The song that stops the show is the gospel/diva song Work of Heart sung with such gusto by Malinda Parris as Henry’s Doctor and Amy Trigg’s wonderful matter of fact physiotherapist Agnes played throughout the show with total glee.

What all great musicals need is a final song that lifts everyone and sends you out humming the tune and the titular song Little Big Things does that with the aid of coloured confetti canons. This is a show that like its title leaves you remembering the little things that make life worth it. I defy anyone not to fall for this show.

Photo credit: Pamela Raith Photography

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