Love the 1980s, stories of underdogs defeating the odds, incredible hair, music, mind-melting choreography, costumes and power ballads? You’ve come to the right place.

42 Balloons is the brand new musical from the creative team behind smash hits such as Six, Rent, In the Heights and a whole lot more.

Based on a true story from 1982, 42 Balloons follows LA-based truck driver Larry Walters as he defies all the odds (and airspace regulations) to make his dream a reality and float 16,000 feet above Los Angeles, using a garden chair and 42 helium-filled weather balloons.

The musical starts with his early life, and moves onto the logistics of how this improbable feat was achieved. The second half deals with the aftermath, exploring what happens after you achieve your dream.

Power couple

The two leads are Charlie McCullagh as Larry (Bonnie & Clyde, Dr.Zhivago) and Evelyn Hoskins as his girlfriend Carol (Waitress, Gypsy, Spring Awakening). These two were in the acclaimed 2022 staged concert performances in the West End and they are a charismatic duo. Hoskins, stands out in particular, with a voice that could summon angels.

She and McCullagh are joined at The Lowry by Gillian Hardie whose previous credits include Kinky Boots and Blood Brothers. Hardie brings Jennifer Coolidge vibes as Carol’s mum while our personal favourite, Lejaun Sheppard (The Book of Mormon, The Tina Turner Musical), serves up a range of inspired songs – plus a special moment of early Will Smith energy – as Larry’s friend and camerman, Ron.

With a stellar cast and production team, 42 Balloons is as slick as you’d expect. The songs are perfect, stand-alone moments, and the choreography is almost incomprehensibly well timed as well as laugh-out-loud funny.

On stage for almost the full two hours, the supporting cast of backing dancers and singers creates an emotional, and deeply human backdrop to this real-life tale.

Like the sound of this? 42 Balloons runs until Sun 19 May in the Lowry’s Quays Theatre.


The Lowry,
Pier, 8 The Quays, Salford, Manchester M50 3AZ
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Sat 4 May 2024