MusicalNorth WestReview

Jackie The Musical – Liverpool Empire

Writer: Mike James

Director: Anna Linstrum

Reviewer: John Roberts

As Jukebox Musicals go, the plot for Jackie The Musical isn’t go to set the world alight but this musical that is based on the D. C. Thompson publication from the 70s is a fun and engaging musical that packs plenty of nostalgia to give even the eldest member of the audience a real buzz.

it tells the story of fifty something Jackie (Janet Dibley) who facing a divorce from her husband John (Graham Bickley) starts to sort through the many boxes she has accumulated over the years. Through a clever and rather sweet framing device and a whole load of music we start to see a picture of who Jackie is and was and that even now, she can still learn a thing or two thanks to the magazine she so often read as a teen.

Writer Mike James provides plenty of laughs throughout and the little twists which start to reveal throughout the show brings genuine audible moments from the eager and positive audience. Director Anna Linstrum ensure that’s the pace packs a punch, scenes are snappy and littered with plenty to watch even in the background when layered with Arlene Philips’ choreography the show really is an energetic extravaganza.

Dibley as main protagonist Jackie delights and you can’t help but get behind her and hope for the best, she works brilliantly with the also entertaining Lori Haley Fox as best friend Jill. Bob Harms manages to wring every inch of comedy from the role of bar owner Frankie, one however doubts that with his lothario ways he only has 1000 Facebook friends! Daisy Steere is full of cheerful naivety as the young Jackie while Michael Hamway as Jackie’s son David may at first appear a little stiff physically he really shines vocally. Strong support is also given from Graham Bickley as divorcee to be John and Nicholas Bailey as Max the “lover”.

The show is littered throughout with excellent renditions of some of the era’s top hits, that are not only executed with panache but they sound brilliant too – from The Osmonds, T-Rex, Tina Charles and David Essex you can be sure there will at least be a few songs in its catalogue that you certainly recognise.

Tim Shortall’s cheap looking set design keeps things simple and allows the multitude of locations to flow with ease and let the narrative breathe in the space, but it’s his costume designs that really hit the mark. Bright, colourful and flaretastic he manages to encapsulate the era through the costumes perfectly. Philip Gladwell also adds an air of rainbow coloured flamboyancy thanks to his loud and proud lighting design.

Jackie The Musical is a real surprise and proves just like the magazine itself… you shouldn’t judge this touring production by its cover.

Runs until Saturday 16 June, 2016

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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