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Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

Disney villain. Octo-woman. Plus-size icon.

From multi-award-winning Fat Rascal Theatre and fresh from complete sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the UK comes this critically acclaimed hit parody musical. ‘Unfortunate’ splashes into town - and things are gonna get wet.

Join everyone’s favourite Disney Diva, Ursula, as she gives her take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea. With an original hot pop soundtrack and trademark filthy humour, it’s time to take the plunge and dive in to this year’s hottest night out. 

Cruella told her side, and Maleficent’s had her moment. Now the legendary queer queen is ready to spill, in this tell-all tale of sex, sorcery and suckers.

Age Guidance: 16+ Contains strong language, partial nudity, scenes of a sexual nature and flashing lights.

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Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch ON TOUR

Our review on Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch - The Lowry, Salford - Friday 23rd February 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

Ursula is back in town and this powerful, progressive, and purple sea witch means business!  Her tentacles will try to tantalise, tease and tame you and she will throw a tidal wave of doubt upon the story you thought you knew.  Ariel the little who now?!  Please!  Two legs and two hands are so 1990!  This cephalopod has eight feelers and has no issue in slapping you down with each and every one of them until she has reduced you the sucker that you are.  So swim yourself down to The Lowry and let Ursula tell you the story of what really happened under the sea.  She will strangle the Disney out of Disney, give it a 2024 swagger, adult up the whole concept and leave many of you soaking wet! 

Fat Rascal Theatre have once again proven their musical theatre magnificence with Unfortunate, having done the rounds at festivals, nationwide tours, and solidifying its smash hit sex appeal with a critically acclaimed run in London.  It is now back on tour bigger, bolder and brassier than ever!  With a fierce and filthy sense of humour throughout, this is no fairytale of a Princess who needs to change and adapt, or to be rescued by her Prince.  This is the stuff of legends where the marginalised break through to put their stamp on the world, and where icons are born.  So, is Unfortunate’s Ursula really full of black, repulsive and repellent ink, or is she simply creating a defence mechanism as the one who was truly wrong all those years ago?  Dive into her world, swim around in her waters, and see if you would have reacted differently.  Gruesome and guilty, or glamourous and gaslit?  Ursula had her heart broken, was fitted up for murder, banished from Atlantica, and treated as an unworthy outcast.  Then out of the blue, the very man who let her down turns up asking for help with his daughter Ariel (or Anal, or Ariola as she may sometimes also be called!)  I mean really, under those circumstances, what’s a gal to do right?  Ursula hooks us into her world and we wait with baited breath to discover just how deliciously devilish this diva can be when it comes to setting the story straight.  Her smut, fierce rebut and hypnotic strut will beguile your senses, entice your dark side to come out and play, and liberate your mind.  Inspired one liners reveal insight into Ursula’s loves, life, and aspirations and you’ll be made privy to the inner workings of her heart, her brain, and her libido!  Ursula rules this fabulously fishy tale and have no doubt, the entire spectacle is on her terms.

There is no camouflaging the irresistible music of Tim Gilvin in this musical.  The songs command your attention and deliver not only cracking tunes befitting of an endorphin fuelled party, but brilliantly interspersed parody, humour and a good dollop of mickey taking fun at the expense of Disney, and political correctness.  Melodic lines, phrases, lyrics and licks from songs and shows such as The Little Mermaid, Ratatouille, and other Disney classics are cajoled into new music, providing a familiar platform of recognition to poke fun at in brilliantly new ways.  ‘Ask The Girl,’ instead of ‘Kiss The Girl,’ should give you an inkling as to the jibing, banter and modernised approach that Unfortunate embodies through song and with a never ending reel of sarcastic, satisfying and scintillating tunes coming your way, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re not convinced, don’t take my word for it, book yourself a ticket and listen to these hilarious songs yourself.  But I must warn you, they are not for the faint hearted, and with beautiful songs such as “Part Of Your World” being replaced with the more adult “Where The Dicks Are,” please do take heed of the 16+ age restriction on this show, because Disney it is not!

In fact, picture Book Of Mormon having a horny drunken affair with RuPaul’s Drag Race, whilst trying to tell a bedtime story to the children they resent for spoiling their fun!  The innuendo is riotous but sometimes, no innuendo is needed for they just spell it out to you in clear, thrusting terms.  Popular culture references are everywhere, making this show relevant, tuned in, and turned on.  ‘Pretty Little Things,’ ‘Etsy,’ and ‘Only Fans,’ are just a few of these drops and do a subtle job of breaking audience walls, because we are watching this larger than life musical, yet our real world is peppered throughout.  Numbers such as “We Didn’t Make It To Disney,” give endless scope and food for thought at those cast outside the perfect illusion of the Disney bubble.  I am a huge Disney fan and often crave their wonderful bubble for the joy of escapism, so I can honestly say that Unfortunate is playing and having fun, throwing a shade of reality on Disney and does not insult die hard Disney nuts in any way, shape, or form…….well no more than it insults and pokes fun at everyone else who gets in Ursulas way!

Shawna Hamic
(Orange Is The New Black, Les Mis) is simply sensational as Ursula.  Commanding, captivating and charismatic, she has a delicious twinkle in her eyes throughout and validates the villain in all of us.  A glamorous and wickedly powerful performance, her humour shines through and her vocals reverberate with a diva dynamic!  River Medway (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Death Drop: Back In The Habit) is insanely funny as Ariel, or speechless girl as Eric likes to call her.  A constant vacant smile on her face, her Ariel had love in her heart but not much in her head.  Her voice is comedy gold on its own, yet this doesn’t stop an absolutely rip roaring comedy performance when Ursula steals it.  Her facial expressions and communication are so wildly winsome that you can’t help falling in love with this innocently infectious mermaid.

Thomas Lowe
(Les Mis, Cats, North & South) is brilliantly bold, and buoyant as Triton.  He brings a posh, privilege and dim nature to this usually macho role, and flips it entirely upside down with his fabulous characterisation.  His performance is purposefully over the top, making Triton hilarious and perfectly cheesy as he delivers this serious character amidst theatrical flare, and he tops it all off with insanely outstanding vocals.  What a voice!   

Allie Dart (2:22, Cinderella) as Sebastian and many other roles was jaw dropping to watch.  The energy, switching of accents, characters and costumes, including one scene where she literally played Sebastian and the chef at the same time were mind blowing!  Whether dancing, voguing, singing, seducing, or trying to control Ariel, each moment, each character was spot on and filled with what can only be described as a genuine and infectious love of performance.

Jamie Mawson
(Fat Rascal associate artist, Macbeth) wonderfully gives us an Eric who is so ridiculously simple, spoiled and in love with himself that you cannot hold the laughter in at any point he is on stage.  He gives such a naive and petulant quality to Eric which he matches entirely with an unstoppable energy as he effortlessly throws himself – literally – around the stage.  Jack Gray as Grimsby and a thousand other characters, including a rip roaring Vanessa is just perfection.  They mesmerise with incredible dance moves, sing the hell out of everything, and provide fantastically honed character after character.  Their Vanessa is something else and I almost feel deserves a spin off all of their own!  Hard working and multi talent doesn’t even come close!  This show is an epic showcase for the entire cast.  It is completed with the nonstop ensemble cast of Corinna Buchan, Jamie McKillop, and Milly Willows who create so many different characters, and are each given their moment in the spotlight for you to truly appreciate their talent.  I have no idea how this cast don’t collapse every night because their commitment, energy and enthusiasm is relentless and palpable.   

Puppetry is used throughout Unfortunate creating endless opportunities for inspired storytelling, characters galore, and a fabulous and unique style all of its own, which epitomises this whole show.  With puppets, set and costume designed by Abby Clarke, she has challenged all usual conventions and created something so perfectly bespoke that it is fascinating to discover the new, exciting and endless species of puppets on offer and gag at the spectacular costumes.   Whether the cast be manipulating simple sock puppets, manipulating huge creatures that each have a unique way of being operated, or they are mixing conventions, half wearing a costume at the back and using puppetry at the front, the creations on offer are inspired and so seamlessly a part of the show that anything seems possible!

will octopi your heart and tantalise your tentacles!  It will delve into the shady segments of your heart and discover your own inner diva dancing on the fake pretences of someone who has perhaps wronged you in life, and boy will it feel good!  You will be thrown into the heart of this sassy show and there are no life preservers here, so make sure you can swim and handle the temperature of the water!  But this show isn’t just about shade.  It is powerful, strong, and urges you to love yourself.  It empowers anyone who has ever felt marginalised, judged, and treated unfairly.  Ariel may have had her voice stolen, but every underdog out there is given theirs back and it packs a punch.  The energy in the theatre tonight was more electric than Ursula’s electric eel best friends and this spark definitely lit up Salford on a cold February evening.  Unfortunate is anything but unfortunate and all I can say is, ‘How Unfortunate’ for you if you miss it.


Watch our "In Conversation with Tom Lowe" video discussing the show.

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