Bill Kenwright`s brilliant production is pure nostalgia. We are instantly drawn into this excellent show, becoming an integral part of it as we are transported back to our musical youth. From the toe-tapping first scene -set in St. Hugo`s Youth Club, somewhere in Essex - the audience is clapping and singing along to `Let’s Dance`, setting the bar high.
A faultless, endless stream of great sounding music, played live, carries us through this simple story of teenage angst as Bobby lusts after Sue, while Laura (Elizabeth Carter)- sister to Bobby’s best friend Ray (Dan O`Brian) - is secretly in love with him. At the same time Sue’s best friend, Donna (Anna Campkin)- is in love with Ray….. Then along comes Norman, (Ben James-Ellis).... a Jack the lad singer, who fancies himself as a bit of an Elvis, but who also fancies winning the song-writing contest, and also a shot at Sue, much to Bobby`s despair!
A convincing performance by Elizabeth Carter as Laura - a plain teenage school girl with a talent for song-writing, gives her rendition of, `To Know Him Is To Love Him` and `You won’t catch me crying`, a touching and believable impression of a teenage girl in love. James Nitti`s Bobby has a clear voice and is well suited to the songs he sings including a heart rending rendition of Roy Orbison`s classic `In Dreams` and `It`s Crying Time Again` as his lovelorn character suffers the pangs of unrequited teenage love.
Dan O`Brian playing Ray, is for me the star of the show. His versatility, whether singing, dancing or comic acting is incredible and he is word and step perfect throughout. Phil, played by Terry Winstanley (a 2012 X Factor contestant), makes a believable older Bobby and Youth Club Organiser. His voice is melodic and stunning in its power and has the audience in fits of laughter as he attempts to play the stern father whilst secretly applauding his son`s attempts to be a successful lady-killer.
The club trip to Southend is highly amusing, and particularly Anna Campkin (as Donna) gives a hilarious performance as a down to earth Essex girl. A neat dodgems scene with bumper cars on stage is a marvel of timing and imagination and great entertainment.
The beautiful song `Dream Lover`, sung as a duet between old and young Bobby sets the mood for Bobby’s ill-fated first bedroom encounter, which, in a hilarious scene, ends in the girl, Sue, being shoved out of the window making her fall from the garage roof, heralding the end of their short romance.
The blossoming romance between Laura and Bobby is accompanied by such wonderful songs, `It’s my party`, `Run around Sue`, `Only Sixteen` and `A Do Ron Ron` to name just a few, making the second act a delightful dance down memory lane, culminating in a classic comic competition finale. By the time Ben James-Ellis (Norman) performs an energetic, `Lets twist again` the audience are again on their feet and ready to join the cast on stage! The sheer joy of the cast as the audience rock n roll, twist and clap and join in with Ray`s joyful `C`mon Everybody` is a pleasure to behold.
When the whole company joins in with the lively `Hey Baby` and `At the Hop` the Lighthouse is really Rock and Rolling!!!
A fantastic, feel-good show. Rock and Roll at it’s very best, performed with energy and passion...Brilliant!!!