Summer Holiday

February 17, 2017 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    Wholesome

Brunton Theatre: Thurs 16 – Sat 18 Feb 2017
Review by Thom Dibdin

There’s a suitably wholesome charm to the Loretto Youth Players’ take on Summer Holiday which is at the Brunton to Saturday.

The wafer-thin plot of the musical – based on the 1963 Cliff Richard movie – involves a group of bus mechanics who borrow a big red London bus and head off on holiday to the French Riviera, to avoid the English summer rain.

Poster for Loretto Youth Players production of Summer Holiday

On the way they meet a girl group, the Doh, Ray Me’s, who are bound for Athens to take part a singing competition – and meet up with American child singer Barbara, (disguised as Bobby), who is on the run from her pushy mother.

The whole thing is packed with numbers which were either hits before the film came out – The Young Ones – or went into the charts as a result – Summer Holiday, The Next Time, Bachelor Boy and Shadows hit, Foot Tapper.

From the first note of the overture in, this feels like the real thing, thanks to a tight little band in the pit who deliver all the tunes with a crisp sense of rhythm and strong attitude to the tune.

The Players themselves are well cast. Aidan O’Brien is in particularly fine voice as Don, who instigates the whole road trip. O’Brien has a strong singing voice and brings a real roundness of tone to his musical numbers. His duets with Bethan Townsend as Bobby (and then Barbara) are particularly fine.

Spark

There’s some nicely played comedy between them. There could be a bit more spark to their relationship, but given the chasteness of the whole – the climactic romantic moment is a peck on the cheek at the end of The Young Ones – they can be forgiven that.

There’s strong vocal support from both sides, too. Frankie Cusack, Nathan Callaghan and Liam Doyle bring both a gauche sense of unease around the female sex as the remaining mechanics, Cyril, Edwin and Steve, and some fine backing vocals – often delivered with a real sense of fun.

Equally strong are Robyn Hoskins, Ceri Ann Townsend and Chloe Yorkston as the Doh Ray Me’s: Angie, Alma and Mimsie. They exude that superior air which teenage girls have, of being more at ease with the world – while still showing that they are hopelessly naive underneath. It is nicely done and their numbers as the Doh Rah Me’s are perfectly in keeping too.

Depth

Around them, Beth Hogg has the invidious task of taking on the grown-up baddy role as Stella Winters, Barbara’s pushy mother. She could afford to be a lot more vicious, if she wanted, but plays up the comedy well, particularly with Danny Boyle who plays her “agent”, Jerry.

A 15-strong ensemble of younger performers give depth to the plotting and add a lot to the big numbers. Director David Ross makes sure everyone has a suitably strong role, so no one is left out on a limb.

The only really tricky note is the balance between the pit and the stage. There are too many times when the band drowns out the singers. Sometimes spoken lines get lost in a backwash of music. At others, it feels as if MD Ross Hamilton is enjoying the score just a little too much, when he should be holding it back for the less confident singers on stage.

But on the whole, this is a hugely enjoyable evening with just the right amount of nostalgia. It plays to the strengths of the company and completely vindicates the Loretto Youth Players decision to move into the Brunton for the first time.

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (including one interval)
Brunton Theatre, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AA.
Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 February 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm. Sat Mat: 1.30pm.
Tickets and details: www.thebrunton.co.uk

ENDS

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