SPEND SPEND SPEND
Book and Lyrics by Steve Brown and Justin Greene.
Music by Steve Brown.
Based on the book by Viv Nicholson and Stephen Smith.
The Union Theatre
204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX to 18 April 2015.
Runs 2 hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS:020 7261 9876.
Review: William Russell 4 April.
Hasn’t passed its sell by date.
This sparkling revival directed by Christian Durham of the 1999 musical – it ran for 11 months at the Piccadilly Theatre with Barbara Dickson in the lead receiving the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle best musical awards – should have been yesterday’s cold potatoes.
The sad tale of Vivian Nicholson who, with her husband Keith, won the pools in 1961 is very much yesterday’s news, although she achieved some immortality by her response when asked what they would do with the £152,000. It was – “Spend, spend, spend.” And that is what the pair did.
It may not sound much today but it is actually the equivalent in today’s money of £5m. Keith was killed in a car accident, Viv ran through the rest of the money and more husbands and when last heard of had dementia.
It is proof that money cannot buy you happiness, but in spite of the way the feckless pair squandered their good fortune this is a hugely enjoyable show with a pleasingly bouncy score helped to success by a trio of first rate performances and a hard working ensemble.
James Lyne is a hunky, charming Keith, a man whose brains are in his physique, and as the older, only slightly wiser Viv, and her pools winning spendthrift persona, Julie Armstrong and Katy Dean make a stunning double act. Both can sing, and Armstrong has a wonderful winning smile as she looks back on past misdeeds conveying just enough self knowledge. As for Ms Dean, hampered by a pretty awful blonde wig, she manages to suggest she really is the same woman. Viv’s great tabloid appeal, the catchphrase apart, was that she really was a dumb blonde.
The Union has a fine track record in reviving old musicals, although sometimes they might have been better left on the shelf. This one, however, comes down from it bushy tailed, alive and well.
Viv Nicholson: Julie Armstrong.
Young Viv: Katy Dean.
Keitth: James Lyne.
George: David Haydn.
Liz: Kerry Whiteside.
Matt: Tony Brandon.
Mrs Waterman: Jayne Ashley.
The Pools Man: Xandy Champken.
The Taxman: Adam Colbeck-Dunn.
The Air Stewardess: Sally Frith.
The Vicar: Oliver Jackson.
Florrie: Charlie Johnson.
Keith’s Mum: Christina Meehan.
The Bank Manager: Stuart Simons.
Sue: April Sullivan.
Other roles played by the company.
Director: Christian Durham.
Musical Staging/Choreographer: Heather Douglas,
Musical Director: Inga Davis-Rutter.
Set Designer: Elle-Rose Hughes
Costume Designer: Olivia Ward.
Lighting Designer: Tim Deiling.