Goat-throwing, cross-dressing and a London bus. It can only mean one thing – SUMMER HOLIDAY – THE MUSICAL! This is one of a number of stage adaptations of films, this one dating back to 1996 and based on the film starring Cliff Richard which was released in 1963. The show deviates in some degree from the original, but it is still recognisable as the same product.
Let’s be honest about it, this isn’t a great show. There is barely any storyline and what there is, is so improbable and peculiar that it’s a wonder the show ever got to the stage. However, the films continuing popularity and the appeal of its evergreen star is always going to attract an audience, particularly ladies of a certain age who were packing the Lyric auditorium at the Theatre Royal Plymouth when I was there.
What lifts this production, though, is the energy and vitality which the cast bring to the song and dance routines which offer a great 1960s vibe and are, obviously populated by some of Cliff’s hits; Bachelor Boy, Living Doll and Summer Holiday (naturally) are all there. The staging and execution of the numbers is first rate.
Racky Plews is responsible for direction and choreography and has done a fine job in lifting the show. The dance routines are excellent, inventive and very well performed by the cast. I particularly enjoyed some of the incidental work by the ensemble, not least the French ballroom dancers and the goat dancing – you had to be there! There is great precision and athleticism in the show and these points make it a cut above.
The singing is also excellent and backed by the great band under the direction of Rob Wicks, this is what the audience have come to enjoy. The Medley at the very end gets people on their feet.
As the central character, Don, Ray Quinn is easy on both the eye and ear as he sings and dances with great skill, only his rather posh voice seemed to jar. His gang of fellow bus mechanics, Billy Roberts, Rory Maguire and Joe Goldie, worked hard on the comedy moments and produced equally polished performances as did the trio of Gabby Antrobus, Alice Baker and Laura Marie Benson. Sophie Matthew gave a decent turn as the stowaway and Don’s love interest Barbara whose vamp of a Mother, Stella, played by Taryn Sudding chases her half way around Europe. Being dragged along with Stella is Jerry, played by 1970s entertainer, Bobby Crush who stumbles his way through the show, looking as if he is not quite sure what is going on!
Maybe the star of the show is the big red bus which the friends travel across Europe. It moves impressively around the stage and makes up for the little set elsewhere.
The script is not top notch and the humour just isn’t there, despite the actors attempts at getting the audience to chuckle. But this is not a show which sets out to be anything that it isn’t. Just as the film didn’t. A slickly performed juke box musical with enough in the tank to provide an audience with some undemanding entertainment.
RAY QUINN – DON
BOBBY CRUSH – JERRY
SOPHIE MATTHEW – BARBARA
TARYN SUDDING – STELLA
BILLY ROBERTS – STEVE
JOE GOLDIE – EDWIN
RORY MAGUIRE – CYRIL
GABBY ANTROBUS – MIMSIE
ALICE BAKER – ALMA
LAURA MARIE BENSON – ANGIE
ENSEMBLE – HANNAH BARR, BECKY BASSETT, CAROLINE BARESON, WILLIAM BECKERLEG, ADAM CROSSLEY, SAM GALLACHER, LEANNE GROUTAGE, MATT TREVORROW
DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHER – RACKY PLEWS
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – ROB WICKS
SET DESIGN – STEVE HOWELL
LIGHTING DESIGN – TIM DEILING
SOUND DESIGN – PAUL SMITH