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Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (Oldham & Newcastle Under Lyme)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Oldham Coliseum’s co-production with the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme is another swinging success for this beautifully recently refurbished theatre at the foot of the Pennines.

Alan Plater’s play with music is the story of a war time all girl dance band need to recruit four new members in time for an important engagement that evening.  Cue a round of amusing auditions with four new ladies, each with their own personalities and stories to swell the band’s range of instruments and vocal.

Unfortunately we do not get to know the four original members of the band well until the end of Act One and the beginning of Act Two. This makes it difficult to form an attachment to the characters or feel empathy for them as they discuss briefly their personal situations during war time. However, this does not detract from the enjoyment of the show as there is little emphasis of the depth of character or the background story as essentially, the play is a light comedy.

There are plenty of one liners and amusing moments from original and new members of the bombshells. Georgina White is superb as Betty; forthright, demanding and keen to ensure the band meets its potential. Carla Freeman as Liz, the naïve school girl with a lovely voice who is having a hell of a day from the moment she auditions - is also excellent. There is not a weak link in this cast and by the time the band is formed and are all playing and singing together, the end result is quite fantastic. 

The set design is yet another triumph for Foxton and both Acts have fantastic scenery and staging. Showing off this band in its 1943 glory perfectly and helping bring this story to life, the power of the set should not be underestimated. 

Overall, Blonde Bombshells of 1943 is a highly entertaining and light comedy performed with real skill and flair.  Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and to have your feet tapping you really should check the bombshells out and do you bit for the war effort. 

- Ruth Lovett


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