I saw Unfortunate at Birmingham Hippodrome and it's the sassiest musical since SIX

cast on stage performing
Shawna Hamic in Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch at Birmingham Hippodrome -Credit:Pamela Raith Photography

I first saw this Disney parody musical when it was a small, unknown Edinburgh fringe production visiting Birmingham Hippodrome’s intimate Patrick Centre. Even then you could tell Unfortunate was destined for bigger things.

Its script and smutty jokes by Fat Rascal Theatre sparkled like the shining hair and teeth of every Disney princess and was as smart and sassy as SIX The Musical. That was before it had a fairy godmother style big budget make-over. Now it returns to the main theatre at Birmingham Hippodrome and with a bigger more famous cast, so will it have kept the essence of what made it so special?

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch is a musical parody based around the Little Mermaid’s wicked diva Ursula. But this is Disney like you’ve never seen it before - and most definitely not for children, hence the 16+ age advisory.

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I caught it at Birmingham Hippodrome on its UK tour, where it stays until Saturday(April 13). It will be back again in the Midlands at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Thursday July 11 to Sunday July 14.

The big lead star is Shawna Hamic, who played C.O Ginger in Netflix TV show Orange is the New Black. She's charasmatic as the wicked Octopus-woman Ursula. Turning the Little Mermaid Disney film on its head, she gives her account of what really happened under the sea including a back-story about her teenage romance with Triton.

River Medway from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK on BBC One is the Little Mermaid herself, Ariel. Medway is hilarious as the vacuous mermaid with x-rated songs and jokes in true drag act fashion.

character of Ariel on stage
River Medway from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is The Little Mermaid Ariel in Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch -Credit:Pamela Raith Photography

Julian Capolei also has his moment of drag cabaret later in a gloriously flamboyant Hot Girl Summer routine. Unfortunate was inspired by late drag queen Divine so it feels fitting that Medway and Capolei are at its core.

Be braced for utter filth and swearing throughout, but it is extremely funny. It's meant to be tongue in cheek, not just about the Little Mermaid story but Disney too and popular culture in general.

The song We Didn't Make It To Disney features an array of sea life puppets deemed too ugly for film. There's also gravestones with cheeky inscriptions to characters like Aladdin's Jafar(he liked a good cape). You don't have to have seen Disney's The Little Mermaid but it does help, to get more out of the jokes and songs, which are all original and range from catchy rock ballads to pop and Disney-esque musical numbers.

cast on stage with big glitterball
Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch on its UK tour to Birmingham Hippodrome and later Wolverhampton Grand Theatre -Credit:Pamela Raith Photography

Song Ask The Girl - a mickey take of Disney's Kiss The Girl - had me in stitches with themes about sexual consent, and like much of this show, so relevant to modern times compared to outdated fairytales. It's nice to see that some of the original cast are still in the production, five years on from their small budget creation.

Notably Allie Dart as Sebastian, and Jamie Mason as the prince, Eric, and they excel at the quirky, character-led scenes. Of the big names, Hamic is perfectly cast as the vivacious, strong female lead. Thomas Lowe playing Triton was in Les Miserables and it shows with his powerful vocals that match Hamic's, making their duets some of the highlights.

As much as I enjoyed it, I would say the original I saw in a more intimate venue worked better for the wordy comedy dialogue. This show is still good and it's much more flamboyant now but the live band in such a big venue was often too loud to catch all the funny song lyrics clearly.

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Some of the jokes were lost and I didn't grasp a lot of what the old Triton said at the start, which is a shame as he was an off-the-wall character.

Most importantly, it hasn't lost its freshness and is as sassy and funny as ever. It's the sassiest show since SIX The Musical, which also started out in a similar vein as a small experimental show that got lifted to new production heights before conquering the world.

Hopefully this vibrant, wonderful comedy show will do the same. Unfortunate is the ultimate feel-good musical for our time that's loud, proud and the funniest thing you'll see all year.

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Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday(April 13). See the Birmingham Hippodrome website here for tickets, which cost from £15. The show returns to the West Midlands to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre with tickets from £16 at its website here from Thursday July 11 to Sunday July 14.