Destined to transfer from the Theatre Royal to the West End in the well-worn footsteps of sell-out successes such as Buddy and South Pacific,, Mark Haddigan and Michael Gyngell have written a sure-fire winner. Summer Holiday has everything - colour, vitality, dance, song, slapstick comedy and pathos - except a demanding storyline.
Suzanne Shaw (made famous thanks to Popstars and Hear'Say) shows that she can not only sing but can also dance and act with gusto as disillusioned starlette Barbara who, disguised as a boy, stows away aboard the double-decker London bus with a bunch of holidaymaking lads.
Pursued across Europe by her fame hungry mother Stella and agent Jerry, Barbara wins the heart of the gorgeous Don (the multi-talented Stefan Booth) who had vowed to remain a "Bachelor Boy" until his dying day.
Also hitching a ride is the all female singing group Doh Reh Me (Kaisa Hammarlund, Leyla Pellegrini and Melody Jones) who embodie the 60s in an explosion of hand jiving and backcombing, with Mimsie (Jones) particularly eye-catching thanks to her never-ceasing boogieing and pouts.
The songs are all there - "Living Doll", "The Young Ones", "Do You Wanna Dance", "Summer Holiday", "We Say Yeah" and the rest - and even those too young to remember the words can't resist clapping along and dancing in the aisles.
Played on Paul Farnsworth's vibrant set, there are some clever touches - wait for the bus climbing the mountain - and the live musicians are tremendous.
- Karen Bussell (reviewed at the Theatre Royal Plymouth