Unfortunate (The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch) – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre

Unfortunate (The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch) – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre (3)

By Christine Goode, April 2024

A new musical is making waves in the UK. Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch is currently on tour and playing at Bradford Alhambra Theatre this week.

The show follows the story of Ursula the Sea Witch, who for this show is inspired by the late drag queen Divine from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. It takes us from her early days as a young octopus to her teenage years, and finally to becoming the wicked witch who terrified Ariel and disrupted the seas. This is not your typical musical – and it’s not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

Essentially a parody of The Little Mermaid it contains everything you definitely would not see in a wholesome Disney Princess film. Brought right up to date with modern mores, it is bold, brash, and punchy. Written by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx and showcased in 2019 at The Edinburgh Fringe, the show has gone from strength to strength and is a non-stop riot from start to finish. We were in stiches throughout as the show pushed boundaries to the limit and brought forth audible gasps from the audience. Yes, it is appropriate that Unfortunate has an age rating of 16+.

Unfortunate (The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch) – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre (2)


The cast are strong and superb, and it is easy to see that they are all having a ball telling this unique story.

Ursula, played by Shawna Hamic, who is famed for her role on Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, is outstanding as she glides around the stage. She has us in her tentacles, occasionally breaking the fourth wall as she addresses the audience. The vocals are superb and her comedic timing is impeccable as she flirts with Triton, played perfectly by Thomas Lowe, the handsome spoilt prince –nice and a bit dim, but with killer vocals. Allie Dart, wow! She plays multiple parts, all with different accents. One scene set in a kitchen is extremely clever and must be exhausting! River Medway, a sure favourite from Ru Paul’s Drag Race takes on the role of Ariel with an up-to-date modern twist that would not look out of place on TOWIE! His character is hilarious, especially in his solo performance of ‘Where The Dicks Are’. Jamie Mawson and Julian Capolei also give notable performances.

Unfortunate (The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch) – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre (1)


Set, Costume and Puppet design by Abby Clarke is great: a huge ship, with clever lighting by Adam King, easily transports us to the bottom of the sea. The costumes are simple, yet clever with layering adapted for each scene change. The puppets are funny, particularly in standout track, ‘We Didn’t Make It To Disney’, which has everyone laughing out loud.

The original toe tapping songs by Tim Gilvin, such as ‘Nasty’, ‘Les Poisson’s’, ‘Unfortunate’ and ‘I’m That Witch’, are memorable and are sure to become ear worms. Occasionally my guest and I missed some of the lyrics in the songs, which was a shame as they were likely very funny.

The show ends with a standing ovation from the delighted audience, who dance along to ‘I’m That Witch’. As the lights go up, there is much laughter and chatter about everyone’s favourite parts of the show, which is a testament to the huge success of this fabulous, but very naughty, new show.

‘Unfortunate’ is at Bradford Alhambra until 6th April
images: Pamela Raith Photography


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