Produced by the team that brought us the successful West End smash hit Dreamboats and Petticoats, this brand new musical directed by Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan is set to rock ‘n’ roll its Sheffield audience this week before continuing on its national tour.
The set and costumes created an atmospheric resonance of the 1960’s era with its all American diner complete with hotdogs, old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottles, and girls in tea-dresses.
Most notable and reminiscent of the era is, of course, the music. The cast’s renditions of popular favourites such as Sweets For My Sweet, Viva Las Vegas and the title track Save The Last Dance For Me, are upbeat, feel-good and catchy. The standout performance was from the male bass providing the doo-wop bass line to many of the hits.
The story itself is light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek, taking us on colourful romp through the turbulent emotions of young love and yearning. Sisters Marie and Jennifer are holidaying without their parents in the seaside town of Lowestoft when they meet some US Army officers. Younger sister Marie falls in love with Curtis, much to the disapproval of her elder sister Jennifer who warns her that all men are the same. The near-the-knuckle innuendo and bawdiness from Hannah Frederick’s Jennifer provides welcome, witty humour alongside the sentimental romance.
A hard-hitting subplot to the fairy-tale love story is the reference to racism in 1960’s America where Curtis, as a black man accompanying a white woman, would be unable to take Marie out to many places in Tennessee.
Personally, I enjoy musicals, but admit with a heavy heart that Save The Last Dance For Me was a touch on the over-the-top Glee side for me. Songs were shoehorned into the narrative where dialogue could have instead complemented the music. When the story concluded, I thought there may be one final song; instead the cast launched into a medley of hits from the era, most of which we had already heard once.
If you are looking for a sugary sweet evening of 1960’s nostalgia, then Save The Last Dance For Me will not disappoint.
Save The Last Dance for Me runs at The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield until Saturday 28th January. For tickets and booking information contact the box office on 0114 249 6000 or go to http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/