Shout! The New Swinging 60's Musical - Review

Shout! The Musical: Churchill Theatre, Bromley
by James Green

This is an affectionate, high-energy, musical reminder of the Swinging Sixties. Along with the 32 songs from that decade are memory-jogs of hippies, sit-ins, the Beatles, man on the moon, Top of the Pops, Carnaby Street, World Cup, the twist, fashions, and laughable TV ads.

Judging by the response of the first night audience, Those Were the Days indeed.

It is obligatory for all themed musical shows to finish with a reprise of the night’s big numbers and here, with the whole cast singing and dancing, the rest of us are invited to join in.

No invitation necessary - everyone stands, sings, claps on the beat and applauds. It must be a delight for the artists.

Since those 32 songs are the sole purpose of the production, the story-line is necessarily on the thin side but works reasonable well - three girls seeking fame, love, and sixties London lifestyle head for a Peckham hair-dressing salon run by Su Pollard.

She is nothing like her TV chambermaid Peggy, and along with her footwork, is surprisingly good at selling a song. One belter earns an ovation.

Howard Jones will never have it better. He’s the sole man in the company of five eye-catching girls and apart from putting up a good show for us males he charms, amuses and most definitely does his career prospects no harm. Ideal casting.

Claire Sweeney heads the girls and while all get their solos, she has more singing-and-shaking spots throughout and handles them with punchy confidence.

Shona White may play the inevitable geek but triumphs with her singing, the strength of her voice overcoming the weakness of the character.

And Donne Steele, as the would-be Twiggy, Louisa Maxwell, and Julie Stark complete the gorgeous five. When not strutting their stuff, they are out there vocalising.

Yet amid the short skirts, beehive hair-dos and fun, the songs such as Shout, Downtown, Let’s Twist Again and Big Spender are the stars. And Yesterday When I was Young will register with some.

The Stage
February 2008