Set in 1979, Desperately Seeking Susan centres on bored New Jersey housewife Roberta Glass who spots a personal ad entitled “Desperately Seeking Susan” and heads off to Manhattan in search of the exciting Susan herself. Things get complicated when, after buying Susan’s jacket, Roberta is knocked unconscious. Awaking with amnesia, she assumes she is Susan, who is also being desperately sought by the mob.
Amongst the Blondie hits included in the stage version, conceived and written by Peter Michael Marino, are “Hanging on the Telephone”, “The Tide Is High”, “Heart of Glass”, “Call Me”, “Rapture” and “One Way or Another”. In addition to Williams and Price, the musical cast features the Leanne Best (Leslie), Mark McGee (Jay), Alec Newman (Dez) and Jonathan Wrather (Gary). The production is directed by Angus Jackson and designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and choreography by Andy Blankenbuchler. It’s currently booking until 19 April 2008.
Another jukebox musical in the West End was probably never going to fare well critically at a time when journalists have been lamenting the takeover of traditional playhouses by musicals. The fact that in this case a back catalogue has been grafted onto a “plodding” adaptation of a film had overnight critics giving it two formulaic demerits. And, while the majority found the principal cast “competent” enough, they felt the production suffered from “uninspired” direction, “odd” design, “banal” choreography and overamplication that turns those Blondie hits into “a deafening irritant”. Most couldn’t resist weaving puns on the show’s title into their final judgements.
- by Tom Atkins