by Amanda Whittington.

Coliseum Theatre Fairbottom Street OL1 3SW To 7 May 2011.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat 7 May 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 4 May.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 624 2829.
Review: Stoon: 20 April 2011.

Worth Singing Yer Heart Out For.
The pre-curtain mobile phone announcement voiced in-character by Mr Steel threatens the unpolished bell-end of Wheeltappers and Shunters, but it’s a momentary indulgence as a few minutes of onstage Satin converts LCD expectation into pleasureful purrs in this catnip affair.

Amanda Whittingham’s early ‘80s throwaway tale of romantically intertwined frustrated ambition risks yesteryear irrelevance in the same way as John Godber if literally transposed, but here the Opportunity Knocks/Pretty Woman combo works, thanks to Roxanne’s Pallett’s less-of-a-tart, more-of-a-heart performance, which it’s impossible not to warm too.

Mat Healy (as Vince Steel), who takes the raw talented teenage songstress under his wings with a view to furthering his own flagging career, has a more straightforward role, yet dovetails in sweet harmony so it’s easy to accept the mix of star-struck hopes, delusion and deception. Their equilibrium lends balance to a production which happily sits astride the fence between the overcooked and the glib, being both funny and poignant.

The songs prove a bonus, performed in character rather than as tribute recital, the highlight being the medley: a showcase of parody, nostalgia and brassy brash entertainment.

Joyce Branagh allows vibrancy throughout without excess, despite pleasing amplified observational detail. A couple of scenes apply the brakes, but that’s a script issue. She may not have fully packed her Travels With My Aunt Suitcase (understandably), but there’s a hint of that 2008 production’s inventiveness in the manner of wonderfully fleeting nods to Morecambe, Parkinson and the era in general. The sets, lighting and sound variations produce the perfect backdrop, with tangible uplift when they make their glitzy London debut.

I was reminded of Northampton Royal and Derngate’s End of The Rainbow and whilst your subconscious won’t allow this fictional ditty set in downtown Oldham to overshadow that show’s reality packed A-List Celebrity offering, they both sing from the same song sheet of life’s failed aspirations. Pallett’s dignified acceptance shuns the melodramatic and renders this a sexy revival of partial fame and fortune.

Teena White: Roxanne Pallett.
Vince Steel: Mat Healy.

Director: Joyce Branagh.
Designer: Nancy Surman.
Lighting: Jane Barrek.
Sound: Lorna Munden.
Musical Director: Howard Gray.
Choreographer: Beverley Edmunds.

2011-04-29 23:47:20

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