Based on Kipling’s Just So stories, Stiles & Drewe wrote an awesome musical following the elephant’s child on his quest to find out why the crab plays with the sea. Along the way he help’s the zebra get her stripes, the giraffe get her spots, the kangaroo get his big legs and the rhino his saggy skin – as well as helping a few other animals.
Taking the form of an old magician telling the story to a child, the show starts with all the animals collecting a case with their name on who we meet along the journey. A journey with a number of memorable songs. The first time I saw this show at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2004 it became a favourite and I saw the production several times. I’ve only seen one other production, a young Rep production in Birmingham which managed to compete well with the professional production in Chichester. The Chichester production also produced the soundtrack album for the show. John Barrowman appears on the soundtrack but wasn’t in the production, however Julie Artherton who has gone onto huge success in Avenue Q and Portrait of a Princess and in the coming month, Sister Act the Musical starred as the Kolokolo Bird.
I can’t exactly pinpoint why Just So is a favourite of mine. I think it caught me a time in my life where a traditional, funny, family-esque musical was needed. When I first saw it I would have been deep in A Level revision and exams and I remember going to supervise some younger members of the youth theatre at Chichester. Then using my youth theatre membership I managed to see it several times for very cheap or free with a number of different people and seeing how they reacted to it helped make it so memorable. There was talk when it was in Chichester of it going to London and to a bigger audience but that sadly didn’t happen. I would love to see a new production or even be involved with a new production… but that might be a long time away.
Just So is an awesome, yet underrated musical. Here is one of my favourite songs from the show ‘The Limpopo River’: