The music of the 50s, 60s and 70s has to be some of the most memorable, ground-breaking and popular of all time. It is those characteristics that, I am certain, have helped this show to blast through its milestone 25th anniversary and will ensure its continued success in the future.
The theatre is completely full with an audience made up predominantly of – how can I put this politely? – people for whom the bus-pass is either in their pocket or in the post! All of them are waiting to bathe in nostalgia and they are not disappointed as the whole production, from start to finish, delivers nostalgia by the truckload.
The set is simple – microphones on stands for the singers, a five-piece band behind and, at the back of the stage, a huge screen on which we see copies of the hit parade, other appropriately dated images and the occasional comedy sketch. For this is not just a concert-style show. It is a fascinating combination of concert, Stars In Their Eyes style impressions and good old-fashioned comedy.
The piece was originally created by Trevor Payne who, after all this time, still takes probably the most leading role in the show. I say probably as it is very difficult to keep track of who is actually leading. Singers and musicians change places with frightening regularity, and each one looks totally comfortable with whatever task is ahead for the next chart-topping song.
Payne’s impressions, particularly of Cliff Richards and Mick Jagger, are spot on, as are the characters played by his comedy partner Gary Anderson. The two of them brought the house down as Laurel and Hardy but Anderson is not just there for his comedic talent. As Roy Orbison and Tom Jones he also displays a versatile, and incredibly strong, voice.
Together with the two gentlemen, there are three female singers who, as well as providing backing vocals, also get to play many characters of their own. Julia Greenham and Nikki Renee Hechavarria perform a fabulous duet of “I will always love you” (as Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston). As the show is supposed to be the 50s through to the 70s, poetic licence is accepted for the chronological imprecision. Jodie Lawson deservedly takes the spotlight as Barbra Streisand.
The band is made up from talented musicians whose skills are by no means restricted to one instrument. Special mention has to go to Ollie Gray who proved to be not only a skilled singer and guitar / banjo player, but also a very accomplished drummer. His drum duet, with Mark Street, is totally show-stopping.
In a three-hour show containing so many amazing songs, it is hard to pick a highlight and the sell-out audience clearly love them all, but for me it has to be Blue Mink’s “Melting pot”. In these politically correct days, the lyrics could be seen as inappropriate – but the sentiment is so right for these troubled times and, when all is said and done, it’s a damned good tune. A superb, great value, night out for all lovers of great music.