Book: Mike James
Director: Anna Linstrum
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Dear Cathy &Claire, tonight I would enjoy seeing a show which manages to combine every fashion faux pas of the seventies with catchy tunes, colour and a mid-life crisis; what would you recommend? Had Cathy &Claire still existed, they may have suggested you see Jackie the Musical.
Taken from the D. C Thompson publicationJackie, which ran for twenty-nine years, this jukebox musical takes each aspect of what made the magazine so appealing to teenage girls of the sixties and seventies and injects new life into it.
Jackie (Janet Dibley) is 54, staring at her life through a series of dusty boxes while she faces a divorce from husband John (Graham Bickley). Between bouts of Prosecco driven self-pity, she finds time to have tea and toast with the most important man in her life, son David (Michael Hamway) himself struggling with the mother of creativity, unrequited love. Complete with the hilariously pushy best-friend Jill (Lori Haley Fox) and a new mysterious man in the midst, Jackie has had an eventful life but could still learn a personal lesson or two.
Like any jukebox musical Jackie aims for a target audience and hits the bullseye. With hits from David Essex, Donnie Osmond, and Jimmy Ruffin this is a musical which strikes that nostalgic cord; vocally it’s a solid night. Dibley does not have the strongest voice, but it feels natural and is fitting to her character, the ability to convey emotion from her voice outweighs any technical issues with the performance. Hamway’s rendition of 20th Century Boyis the evening’s highlight and Nicholas Bailey closes act one with a classic Love Is in The Airbut sadly his vocals land on the side of awkward.
Playing younger Jackie is Daisy Steele, who manifests innocence and naivety in a heartwarming performance. As talented as the cast are, Bob Harms as Frankie is tonight’s breakaway star. He encompasses every aspect of the mid-life crisis and elevates an enjoyable musical into a memorable evening.
The second half of the production is tighter than the first, and any odd performances from the previous act start to make a little more sense. The writing at first feels predictable but this all changes in the shows second half, particularly the final ten minutes where Mike James manages to demonstrate that while the magazine may have left us, its advice can still reach out into later life.
The costumes range from timeless classics to, well, flares, so many flares; Tim Shotall has truly encapsulated this point in fashion history with the stunning wardrobe design. Shotall’s set design is very simple and allows the costumes to be the real show stoppers.
Jackie the Musical maintains its namesake’s dignity, never stooping to the level of cheap sexual humour or crossing the line into judgmental opinions. Its lead character embodies the magazine’s spirit magnificently, and twenty-three years later continues to be faithful to the original fans.
Jackie The Musical may not win the jukebox musical crown but it will surely win aplace in the hearts of woman across the country just as the beloved magazine did.
Runs until Saturday 16 April 2016 | Image: Pamela Raith