Show: Summer Holiday
Venue: Cripps Hall Theatre, NSB
Credits: Based on the film â€œSummer Holidayâ€.Stage adaptation by Michael Gyngell & Mark HaddiganOrchestrations by Keith StrachanDirected by Peter Yates, screenplay by Ronald Cass & Peter Myers by special arrangement with StudioCanalThis amateur pro
Performance Date: 31/05/2017
Alex Wood | 01 Jun 2017 16:38pm
Summer Holiday is a musical based on the film of the same name. The plot is fairly straightforward, based on adventures and misadventures involving four young men who decide to spend their summer holiday driving a London bus across Europe. It’s an unashamedly juke box musical featuring songs from the 60’s in which it is set.
With little scope for character development and fairly straightforward music it’s not a challenging piece for the audience. For me, the joy of the piece lies in its execution so there is a big responsibility for the cast to make it work with confident, dynamic and entertaining performances.
A lot of this lays on the shoulders of the two sets of young principals. The ‘boys’ – Harvey Morris as Steve, George Johnston as Don, Luke White as Cyril and Ben Stanton as Edwin – were convincing as a group of lads on an extraordinarily thrilling adventure, playing their roles with some confidence. Singing was of variable quality as was the quality of acting, though Ben Stanton stood out as being totally convincing and assured as Edwin. A natural and strong acting and singing performance – I especially liked his ‘transformation’ from northern lad to a Buddy Holly type in the opening to act two.
Do-Re-Mi, the girl group the lads rescue from their broken down car, were, as a trio, clearly totally in tune in their respective roles – Hannah as the rather dippy Alma, Helen Kennedy as the conscientious and ambitious Mimsie and Ella Styles as their leader, Angela. Well acted, sung and danced; totally believeable.
The eighth passenger on the bus is Barbara, played by Katy McNaughtan. Another very convincing performer, Katy has a fine voice, which she used to good purpose as the young American singer whose mother has ‘ambitions’ for her. My one reservation is that when she is ‘rescued’ she is meant to be masquerading as a 14 year old boy – which with a figure, false eyelashes and lipstick, she clearly is not! Surely the comic point of the song Batchelor Boy is that Don (‘a born leader’) does not realise that she is a girl?
For many in the audience the characters they will most remember from the show will be Barbara’s overweaning, domineering mother, Stella (Eleanor Digby) and her long-suffering agent, Jerry (Brett Hanson). Both nailed their parts totally; Eleanor frighteningly bossy and Brett rather incompetently compliant – from their different perspectives brilliant comic timing from both.
There was very good support from those in minor roles and others in the ensemble. Lines had been learnt and diction was good.
Movement around the stage, by, at times, a large group of performers, was well-directed and the ambitious choreography was a pleasure to watch.
The set was a simple one, often making clever use of of projected scenes and furniture. I liked the bus, though felt its interior could have been given a bit more colour – possibly just through some simple dressing. Lighting was good and the balance of sound between band and actors, after a very early glitch, was just right (though, four rows back, it may be worth me pointing out that I could hear backstage whispers from time to time). There were a lot of scene changes and these were generally carried out efficiently. This show makes a big demand on the wardrobe department and – from 60’s style dresses to police uniforms – they did an excellent job.
The orchestra, directed by Graham Tear, were also excellent.
Whilst this was the first night I felt that the show, whilst entertaining, fell a little short of expectations – which told in the rather restrained reaction from the audience. Hopefully, as confidence builds, the rest of the run will have just that bit more impact.
- : admin
- : 31/05/2017