Jude and Penny Lane have hitched to London from Liverpool so that Jude can try to become a pop star. On arrival they meet up with Jack, a bit of a wide boy with fingers in many pies, including managing a band who play regularly at the Marquee Club. Jack introduces them to the band and after a trial number, Jude is allowed to join the group. Jude disappears that night with Lady Jane while Penny hooks up with the band frontsman, Wild Thing.
Unfortunately what follows is a plot so thin and predictable that finding any empathy for the characters seems pointless. Jude gets success but leaves the band behind as well as the lovely Lady Jane after an argument. Wild Thing becomes hooked on drink and drugs with the inevitable result. Finally Jude comes to his senses and returns to London, apologies to everyone and everyone is happy in the end.
The four principles Verity Rushworth (Penny), Matthew Wycliffe (Jude) Aaron Sidwell (Jack) and Tricia Adele-Turner (Penny) all work hard to bring life to their two dimensional characters, but ultimately fail to lift them from the mundane. They are outshone by Paul Hazel's Lily and Mark Pearce as Wild Thing. The narrative device is the use of the amiable newspaper seller (Gregory Clarke) giving a timeline of world events.
Jukebox musicals are incredibly common these days, and Carnaby Street brings nothing new to the format, relying totally on people's affection for the music rather than making it a full blown musical worth seeing.
- Helen Jones