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Save The Last Dance For Me (Tour - Blackpool)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This was reviewed at an earlier tour stop in Manchester in February 2012. Casting may have changed since then.

The people behind Dreamboats and Petticoats stick fairly closely to the tried and tested formula when they team up again for Save the Last Dance For Me another jukebox musical - currently doing the rounds.

Fans of the former won’t be disappointed by the latest offering. Directed by Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan, this is a fun-filled show that takes you back to the Rock n Roll era of the early sixties.

The rather predictable plot follows two sisters, Jennifer (Hannah Frederick) and Marie (Megan Jones) as they head to the coast for the summer holidays. Naturally, young love is in the air when they meet two American army officers. But, unsurprisingly, the plot is perfunctory as this show is all about the songs.

With an impressive list of tunes guaranteed to have the audience singing along, Save the Last Dance For Me really shines musically. The cast are generally very good and they excel during a superb a cappella rendition of the title track, complete with stunning harmonies.

Unfortunately, the music comes at the expense of an original storyline and compelling characters. The plot is flimsy at best and feels like an afterthought, designed as an excuse to shoe horn all of the songs into one show.

That said, the English/American contrast within the story does provide a small amount of substance as the musical tackles the issue of racism. It even adds a bit of comic relief as some memorable one-liners - ‘Do you have a fag?’ - arise from the language differences.

However it also causes a few problems. Jason Denton, who plays Curtis, struggles at times with the accent, while Jennifer and Marie’s constant switching from Luton accents to American ones when they sang was odd, albeit understandable from a musical perspective.

Nonetheless, Save the Last Dance For Me is a heart-warming trip down memory lane that hits all the right notes musically, in spite of its obvious limitations.

- Paul Berentzen

(Reviewed at the Manchester Opera House)


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