This tale of teen angst, played out to a magnificent soundtrack of 50’s and 60’s hits, has the audience firmly in its grasp from the outset. The choice of Chris Montez’s Let’s Dance as the opening song sets the tone for a fast-paced journey which starts with the discovery of an old Dansette record player in the attic and – through the power of the flashback – takes us through the lives and loves, headaches and heartaches, of the kids at the local youth club.
Leading the action are the young Bobby (Alistair Higgins) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) who are totally believable as uncomfortable teenagers trying to find a place in life, while not realising that the things they are so desperately searching for are right in front of them. Although they could both very easily pass for mid-teens, they have voices which raise the roof, most evident in their counterpoint duet of Runaway and Who’s Sorry Now.
Jimmy Johnston appears as both the older Bobby at the start of the show, and as Bobby’s father, Phil, in the flashbacks. He plays the fatherly role incredibly well and, thankfully, gets a number of opportunities to show off his amazing singing voice – which I first had the pleasure of hearing way back in the1980’s when he appeared in the brilliant, but short lived, West End show, Sherlock Holmes the Musical.
Alastair Hill is pure rock and roll as the super cool, but unfortunately named, Norman. He is the bad-boy that all the girls want but, as with most guys like that, it is only a matter of time before the façade starts to crumble and the real character emerges. The girl who, almost literally, throws herself at him is Sue (Laura Darton) and the two of them dominate the dancing with some incredible jive moves. They are complimented by Ray and Donna (David Luke and Gracie Johnson), who get the best of the comedy lines in the script.
Throughout the piece, the music is played live by various members of the cast who show just how talented the actor / musician can be. Lauren Chinery and Chloe Edwards-Wood, on baritone sax and tenor sax, together with Mike Lloyd and Mike Slader on trombone and trumpet, form a powerful brass section who give the overall sound of the piece a real depth and soul.
The keyboard skills of Sheridan Lloyd and the guitars of Patrick Burbridge, Joey Ellis and Josh Tye, together with the percussive rhythms of Billy Stookes on drums, create an authentic 60’s sound, particularly in numbers like Bobby’s showstopping version of Only The Lonely which is pure musical perfection.
In appreciation of such a wonderfully energetic and enthusiastic show, the audience happily take to their feet for an all-singing all-dancing finale and give the cast the standing ovation that they richly deserve.
**** 4 stars