It's the swinging 60's and at the local youth club there are teenagers aplenty entering song writing competitions and falling in love... and that's about it for your storyline. Nobody comes to these jukebox musicals for a gritty story though because what they are always excellent at is showcasing the finest actor musicianship.
Character names are typical of sixties songs so Bobby (Stephen Rolley) and his girl Laura (Hannah Boyce) take the entire show to flirt, fall out, find other love interests before coming together at the end. You can predict the few twists and turns that the plot takes against the two leads and even most of the songs were being sung by members of the audience before the band began to play!
(Previous Cast Photography)
Stephen Rolley is a strong lead as Bobby who provides great renditions of Let's Dance, Dream Lover and Runaround Sue (yes, there's also a character called Sue...) Hannah Boyce as Laura is the 'Ugly Betty' of the show - at first a geeky, shy "school-swat" who has a talent for writing music. As Sandy does in Grease she transforms into a more desirable young woman by the end, but keeps her morals! Boyce herself it seems is just as talented as her character with an impressive performance of Dream Baby Dream in particular.
Each cast member is equally impressive with incredible musical talent but those in roles with the chance to shine include Matthew Colthart as Norman. Colthart is commanding, smooth and in fine voice throughout and manages to energise the audience with hits such as The Wanderer and Let's Twist Again. Louise Olley is a great addition to the cast as Sue and despite what they say about Sue's dancing it's all eyes on Olley in this case. 60's singer Mark Wynter is Phil/Older Bobby and delights fans with his own encore at the end.
The set, made mostly of backdrops featuring 60's album covers is sometimes distracting from the action. I found myself looking to see which I recognised and then remembered to watch the show again - there is no attempt at a realistic setting. Also, the boys playing ping pong in the corner takes away from the action many times! The fairground bumper cars are a fun addition.
Jokes and references are clearly aimed at the show's target audience and those of a reminiscent age who do make up a very large percentage of the overall turnout. These musicals wouldn't be much without an incredibly versatile and talented cast that carry it through nearly three hours. It's a pleasant show, simple and easy to watch. Worth going entirely for the talent the young cast ooze. Book to see the show at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 21st September here.
Cast List: Stephen Rolley, Matthew Colthart, Hannah Boyce, Louise Olley, Will Finlason, Laura Sillett, Mark Wynter, Robert Dalton, David Jay Douglas, Chloe Edwards-Wood, Mike Lloyd, Sheridan Lloyd, David Luke, Michael Park, Charlotte Peak, Josh Tye, Damien Walsh, Victoria Quigley