HAVING had such success with Dreamboats and Petticoats, the “juke box” musical written by sitcom experts Marks and Gran (Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart) full of songs from the 1950s which has spawned seven hit albums of such music, producer, and, for this show, director, Bill Kenwright has now worked with the same writers to move on into the 1960s, the Merseybeat sound, the incoming influence of American blues and the music of the next decade.
I had completely forgotten the characters and the plot of the original show, and will easily forget the plot of this new one, but what is wonderful is to see these songs, songs which have been part of my life, and part of my parents lives, since (just) before I was born, re-imagined, choreographed and fully staged, sung and played by young actors, singers, and musicians at the top of their game.
This is a real treat for anyone who likes such music, from All I Have To Do Is Dream and It’s In His Kiss to Groovy Kind of Love and A Picture of You, and I’m guessing it is only copyright that keeps any Beatles songs out of the show, although songs they covered, such as Twist and Shout, and big hits that have had recent chart success due to films, such as Pretty Woman, covers by artists such as Cher and Phil Collins, and appearances on various TV talent shows, whether sung by X Factor wannabees or danced to on ice or Strictly floor, ensure that everyone in the audience will surely know at least one of them.
There is a plot, with great cheesy humour and a fairly predictable ending, this is all about the music, and although most numbers are performed by a few leads, most of the cast get to feature on one or more song, with all of them dancing the latest dances, from the Twist to the Mashed Potato, and it’s also great to see all the music played live, with some great sax and trumpet solos, and some wonderful lead guitar. Many of the introductions were so accurate that we knew exactly which gem from 50 years ago was coming next, and by the end of the show the capacity 1900+ audience were, justifiably, on their feet.
It would be ridiculous to single out any one member of this wonderful ensemble, as all 16 sang, danced, and/or played their socks off for the whole evening, ensuring that we were all thoroughly entertained, usually with a big smile on our faces, and left the Hippodrome with sunny disposition, despite the July showers.
If you are a fan of original work, this is not for you at all, in any possible way. But if you like to hear great music reinterpreted with accuracy, skill, and aplomb, look no further than this for a great night out.