It’s a bit like larding a joint of lean beef to make it more succulent. You take music of a particular genre and thread it through a story about a mixed bag of people linked by one particular interest.
In the case of Rhinestone Mondays, it’s country’n’western numbers and members of a line dancing club somewhere in urban England. The action spans five consecutive Mondays and its core is the relationship between the dance tutor and an initially reluctant newcomer.
The trouble is that – except for a brief moment in the second half when momentarily it seems that two real people are having a genuine conversation about real emotions and their associated problems – all the characters are types rather than individuals. You laugh at them, rather than with them.
So we meet – among others – Brian (Shaun Williamson), the barman of the run-down social club, Duncan (Ian H Watkins), the camp member with a heart of gold (as well as a fine dance technique), Carol (Ally Holmes), the bespectacled teaching assistant with two left feet, and “Clint” (Phil Pritchard), the film fan with a skewed view of himself.
The central characters are Annie (Faye Tozer) and Tom (Anthony Topham). Their attempts at establishing a relationship – she’s a single mother and he’s gone through a traumatic divorce – flounder under the attentions of would-be seductress Sophie (Lyn Paul) and carpet-slippered Mary (Pauline Fleming).
It’s all very well performed, (Holmes is also the choreographer) with director Phil Wilmott and musical director Richard Healey losing no opportunity to encourage the audience to clap along and even come to its collective feet and dance. Sara Perks has provided a good set and her costumes have all the requisite glitter for the finale number. It’s all pleasant enough but, for me at any rate, in the end the joint was overcooked.