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ON TOUR (Tour Dates: here)

What can I say? I went to this musical with very low expectations – the prospect of a show built around a collection of hit songs of the 1960s strung together by a completely anodyne and light-weight plot did not fire me up with enthusiasm. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go; but my wife was curious. “Okay,” I said; “but if it’s boring, we’re bailing out at half time!”

Well, it was utterly charming. I stayed to eat my words and bop with the rest of the audience at the end. Some of the plotting devices were so outrageously corny and telegraphed that the show had me laughing hard at times. The story is, as expected, nothing but a series of excuses to cue the songs spun around a plot that would make an old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “let’s put on a show in a barn” movie look sophisticated; the characters are the callow youths most of the audience happened to be when the songs became famous (there was so much light bouncing off white hair in the audience that I bet they had to adjust the lighting scheme).  But the whole event is infectious; the audience joins in enthusiastically when ever it is invited to; and there were several younger people scattered about the auditorium too who were obviously experiencing a delightful time.

I saw the show in Oxford; but the tour is extensive, and if it’s coming to a theatre near you, it’s certainly an enjoyable night out and you should consider going if this is music that appeals to you at all. It is, for one thing, very well performed just in terms of the sheer musicality of the band and singers. The four performers named above are all noteworthy in every sense of the word. The energetic and committed singing, dancing and acting of the entire youthful cast is engaging throughout and the choreography and movement are always apt and at times genuinely exciting. It isn’t the most original or inventive show; but then it never set out to be that; and within its limitations it succeeds admirably.

My main criticism is that the show took itself a mite too seriously. They could easily have sent up the whole tradition of the compilation musical with more verve. This production needs, to my mind, a bit of tweaking; to be a touch more cheeky in its approach to the script. But the choice of music is good; the acting and singing are vivacious; and for me this was a very pleasant and entertaining evening of light theatre with a strong nostalgic kick. If you are not completely prejudiced against the music or this genre, then I can recommend attending should it come to a theatre near you.

  • Musical
  • Written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
  • Director: Bob Tomson
  • Featuring classic tracks by Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and many more
  • Choreographer: Carol Todd
  • ON TOUR (Tour Dates: here)
  • Review by Mel Cooper
  • 24 February 2014

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Canadian-born Mel Cooper first came to the UK to study English Literature at Oxford University and stayed. He was captivated by the culture and history of Britain, which he found to be a welcoming and tolerant country. After working in highly illustrated, non-fiction publishing for over a decade, he founded and edited the magazine Opera Now. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a broadcaster on British Satellite Broadcasting, a maker of audio shows and arts critic for several airlines, and as one of the team that started Britain’s first commercial classical music radio station, Classic FM, on which he was both a classical music DJ and creator and presenter of shows like Classic America and Authentic Performance. Throughout this period, he also lectured in music and literature in London and Oxford and published short stories in Canada. After working with the Genesis Foundation on helping to fund arts projects, he continues to write, review and lecture on music and literature. His first novel has just been published as an e-book. The title is City of Dreams. It is the first volume of a projected saga called The Dream Bearers. You can find the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.

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