The time is 1963, the place Middle America – and the music? Well, a lot of it is great Sixties stuff, such as Wipe Out by the Surfaris, and Do You Love Me? by Brian Poole & the Tremeloes. Remember them? Your reviewer is old enough to remember them. Some of the music is even older. But you don’t have to be as old as your reviewer to enjoy it. And the band is amazing. Only three musicians, but playing a variety of instruments, and fairly driving the dance routines along.
Dancing is what the show is all about, of course. A teenage girl from a respectable upper-middle class family gets mixed up with some rather disreputable professional dancers while the family are on their summer vacation. She starts learning how to dance, with the leading dancer as her teacher. He is a real hunk. When he took his shirt off, there were whoops of delight from the distaff side of the audience.
The dancing is spectacularly good, whether performed by the Ensemble or by individual actors. Is it dirty? Well, it would no doubt have been called that by respectable folk in the early Sixties. It is certainly sexy. The teenage ingenue gets better and better at it, while her love affair with the lead dancer heads for a crisis that will test its survival.
Of course, this show is the stage version of a popular movie. How can scenes like driving in an automobile along the highway, or practising lifting movements waist-high in a lake, be reproduced on stage? You will be surprised! Indeed, the set is ingenious, and the scene-shifting is impeccably managed. Full marks to the production team. This adaptation for the stage loses nothing of the visual effect of the film version, but gains from the warmth and spontaneity of a live performance.
The show has only a short run at this venue, closing on Saturday, so you will have to be quick to catch it. Plenty of people were catching it last night. The New Wimbledon Theatre (not that new – it was built in 1910, but refurbished in the 1960s) is the eighth largest in London, but it was pretty full. And to judge by the hoots of delight and the standing ovation at the end, the audience were loving it!