Book/Music/Lyrics : Daryl Denham &Maurice Cheetham
Director: Anthony Williams
Reviewer: John Roberts
Did you hear about the world premiere musical in New Brighton starring Darren Day, Billy Pearce, Lionel Blair and Dean Sullivan? I wish there was a punch line to the start of that joke, but like the production itself, it lacks humour, lacks originality and above all, for a musical, it lacks musicality.
Written by the duo behind the Crazy Frog single (yes you did read that right!) Stand Up the Musical should have been left on the shelf, a massive musical mis-fire if ever there was one. Denham and Cheetham laden the script with sexist, misogynistic jokes, that weren’t even funny in the 80s, and their lyrics leave little to the imagination, innuendo filled rhyming couplets abound throughout leaving what is a talented cast with little to get to grips with other than two dimensional characters and a plot so thin and derivative, it makes Eastenders look like a masterpiece in fiction – and do I dare mention the horrible and poor quality backing tracks that the cast have to compete with? Oh it seems I already have!
Three comedians at different stages of their career all battle for love, while ultimately battling each other for their moment in the limelight, Tony Monroe (Day) is the womanizing host of Totally Saturday Night, Owain Williams is the young rising star Scott Thomas and Pearce plays aging gay comic Stan Chester.
While the premise of the piece is interesting its execution is less so. Director Anthony Williams has gained a critical reputation as director of the Floral pantomimes, but here his direction lacks clarity and attention to detail (a contract with no text, two paramedics carrying a stretcher made of two planks of wood and a sheet) this production screams CHEAP at the top of its lungs and never lets you forget it too from the low level set design to the abysmal lighting design.
The only saving grace of this production is the cast. Billy Pearce gives his all to the rôle of Stan, his routine at the top of act 2 bringing the entire audience into roars of laughter for near on ten minutes – it’s no surprise to find that this is in-fact his own material and not written by the shows creators. Owain Williams is strong as Scott Thomas and has a crystal clear singing voice, while a comic cameo from Dean Sullivan as the owner of The Comedy Hut Bob Fletcher brings some much needed relief. Credit must also be given to Devon-Elise Johnson who gives a strong turn as Scott Thomas’ pregnant fiancé and Natalie Harman as her larger than life best friend.
At £25 a ticket Stand Up the Musical is the biggest and probably most expensive joke going, save yourself the time and effort and cross the water to see a musical that will really give you value for your money and guarantee you a night at the theatre you will never forget, for all the right reasons.