Review – Save The Last Dance For Me

Feb 22 2013 | By More


King’s Theatre
Mon 18 – Sat 23 February

When the pre-curtain announcer pipes up at the beginning of Save The Last Dance For Me there is none of the usual ‘please turn off your mobile phone’ message. Instead, it is to say that the performers are singing live, and if we want to join in, feel free.

Production shot from Save the Last Dance for Me 2012 tour

Production shot from Save the Last Dance for Me 2012 tour

Which means that if it happens to be at a captioned performance, it’s open season on such classics as Viva Las Vegas, Can’t Get Used to Losing You and Teenager in Love. Immediately, the mostly mature audience members were singing along to the songs of the early Sixties.

After a couple of minutes, though, so thoroughly enraptured were punters by the on-stage singing, that the joining in ceased, with only a few rather sweet singalong moments before the energy-packed encores.

Who could blame them with this young cast of quadruple threat performers – they sing, they dance, they act and they play instruments. And they sell this show like their lives depend upon it.

At base, it’s a jukebox musical, pinning a simple tale of young love to the songs of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. That’s the partnership behind the above songs, along with such lesser-known hits as Suspicion and His Latest Flame. There are many more, including the title tune, and Sweets For My Sweet, delivered in a tight acapella version. There are a couple by other writers, such as Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, but mainly it’s the Pomus and Shuman Show.

It is also the Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Show. The writers of such TV hits as Shine on Harvey Moon and Birds of a Feather (the stage version of the latter coming to the King’s in April) provide a script with plenty of comic zingers.

Forgive the flimsiness

There’s a serious angle too, in the story of white teenager Marie falling for black US airman Curtis – it’s 1963 so mixed race relationships were generally frowned upon, but it’s all handled with a light touch because really, all the story has to do is get us from one song to the next.

Production shot from the 2012 tour of Save the Last Dance for Me

Production shot from the 2012 tour of Save the Last Dance for Me

There’s the odd paper-thin motivation for a number – a flip “Take her to New Orleans’ instantly gives us Way Down Yonder – but it’s all such fun that if you notice, you forgive the flimsiness. Mostly, the songs fit the scenes, and the performers fit the songs – cast members slip easily between multiple roles, and the production doesn’t pretend you won’t notice.

Indeed, it has fun with the notion, especially with Marie’s parents – played by Sally Peerless and Alex Hammond – who are regularly handed the brass instruments of their band member alter egos if a song is needed when they’re around.

Buy the original music
which inspired the show:

Their smitten daughter is played by Elizabeth Carter, a spitfire who belts out ballads and bubblegum with equal aplomb. As big sister Jennifer, Verity Jones is cracking too: as adept with a one-liner as she is with a song. Kieran McGinn has presence and a voice to match as Marie’s beau, Curtis, while Lee Honey-Jones shows off his suitably mellifluous voice and smooth moves as fellow airman Milton.

Speaking of the dancing, Bill Deamer’s choreography is a real treat, giving the kind of sharp and sassy moves rarely seen on stage today, full of shimmies and salutes. And musical director Michael Kantola deserves praise for leading a band with real fizz (and looking good in uniform).

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll love Save the Last Dance, as it takes you back to your youth. If you’re younger, it’ll have you wishing you were there.

Run ends Saturday
Running time 2 hours 20 mins.
Daily, 7.30pm (Sat mat: 2.30pm)

Save the Last Dance for Me on tour:
18 -23 Feb 2013 Kings Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
4 – 9 Mar 2013 Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
11 – 16 Mar 2013 Assembly Hall
Tunbridge Wells
01892 530613 Book online
18 – 23 Mar 2013 Llandudno Venue
01492 872 000 Book online
25 – 30 Mar 2013 Mayflower Theatre
02380 711811 Book online
2 – 6 Apr 2013 Grand Opera House
0844 871 3024 Book online
8 – 13 Apr 2013 Grand Theatre
0844 848 2706 Book online
15 – 20 Apr 2013 Southport Theatre
0844 871 3021 Book online
22 – 27 Apr 2013 Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649 Book online
29 Apr – 4 May 2013 Malvern Theatre
01684 892277 Book online
7 – 11 May 2013 New Theatre
029 2087 8889 Book online
20 – 25 May 2013 Marlowe Theatre
01227 787 787 Book online
28 May – 1 Jun 2013 Princess Theatre
0844 871 3023 Book online
3 June – 8 Jun 2013 The Hawth
01293 553636 Book online
10 – 15 Jun 2013 Wyvern Theatre
01793 524481 Book online
22 – 27 Jul 2013 New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online


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