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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Spencer’

It has become traditional to use the plethora of ticket offers in Jan / Feb to revisit a favourite long-runner or to catch ‘one that got away’. I’d pigeonholed this one as ‘coach parties & tourists’ and hence to be avoided – even if the Telegraph’s Charles Spencer (a man of a certain age and notorious enemy of jukebox musicals) loved it.

It’s set in 1961, a few years before my personal musical awakening, featuring songs of that period. There’s a teenage love story to link them together, written by TV’s Marks & Gran no less, which is surprisingly charming and funny. It’s a real nostalgiafest – tizer, waggon wheels, Juke Box Jury, love bites & brylcreem – but never takes itself seriously. Fifty years on, 1961 seems rather cool.

Given how long its been running, the big surprise is the freshness and enthusiasm with which it’s performed. The onstage band (with two girl saxophonists!) is excellent and all of the young cast sing and dance for their lives. The production values are good (design Sean Cavanagh, lighting Mark Howett, sound Ben Harrison) , Bob Thomson’s staging very effectively and there’s some great choreography from Carole Todd.

The audience is of course of a certain age (it was refreshing to bring the average age down for once) and you can hear them singing along in the second half and see them dancing in the aisles at the end. I have to say that even though life would go on without it, seeing it was a rather pleasant surprise – and no animals were harmed in staging it.

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