Katie Tyler (Gwendolyn, Callum Clarke (keyboards), George Francis (keyboards), Elliot Chapman (drums). Michael Starke (voice of Shout).
How timely is this production of “Shout! – the Mod Musical”, opening just a few days after the tragic news of the death of Cilla Black.
This slick and sassy show is therefore a fitting tribute to Cilla …and the superstar Divas of the ‘60s.
Britain led the world in the musical revolution at this time - the Beatles, Stones and other Bands rocked and rolled it, but also a troupe of female singers were the hit parade queens. Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black notched up around 70 UK hit singles throughout the decade.
Shout!, created by American directors/choreographers, Phillip George and David Lowenstein, is a quirky celebration of their memorable songs. This is a Jukebox musical which transfers the lyrics, Mod fashion and style of the period into an entertaining, nostalgic theatrical show.
The cast is a quintet of five mini-skirted girls in their late teens/early 20s, known only by their colour co-ordinated dress. Yellow Girl is a-cute-as-candy American (perfect accent) who has travelled from Cincinatti to London to see her idol Paul McCartney. Orange Girl with her beehive hairdo, is married but suspects her husband may be cheating. Blue girl is a bubbly Liver-bird unhappy in love – (a red haired Cilla bob would be more appropriate than her white wig). Flighty and fun, Green girl is a self-confessed slut. In her socks and sandals, Red Girl is naïvely, schoolgirlishly innocent trying to grow up.
The storyline may be as stick thin as Twiggy, but the experiences, hopes and dreams of the characters are dramatised in short vignettes and neatly illustrated in song. The girls are coming of age during the free love era of the Pill and rise of feminism.
It’s a fine repertoire - “Georgie Girl”, “These Boots are made for Walking,” “Down Town” et al, from ensemble song and dance numbers, performed with sexy shimmer and shake, to slow, slow soulful, romantic ballads.
Highlights for me were Emily Chesterton’s heartfelt rendition of “You don’t have to say you love me” and a beautiful duet combining “You’re my World” (Cilla’s 1964 No. 1 hit) with “All I see is You” (Dusty Springfield), sung by Emily and Hayley Hampson.
A clever touch is the series of humorous scenes in which each girl writes to the Problem Page in Shout magazine. Gwendoline (a look alike Jackie Kennedy) provides outdated advice about relationships: attract a man with “a fetching new hair style and shade of lipstick.” she says. It’s the woman’s role to be a dutiful wife and mother.
A few quibbles: the Goldfinger routine - choice of song, cheesy dance steps and plastic pen “ James Bond revolvers” seem out of place in this story. And a shame that the excellent Band is hidden behind a screen of pin ups instead of being centre-stage.
Shout! is a light-hearted fun, frothy, frolic of a show as sugar-sweet and fluffy as an egg white meringue. With glossy glamour, charming characterisation, excellent acting and vocal talent all round, this is a cool, classy and vibrantly colourful production by this energetic young ensemble.
Emily, Hayley, Sarah, Evangeline and Miriam look, sing and gel together as a girl band with charismatic, sparkling performances. Stand back Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, Saturdays, Little Mix … the Shout! girls, here we come!.
7 – 17, 19 - 30 August, @ 5.45pm.
Ticket prices: £12.50 – 13.50 (concessions £ 2 off