Summer Holiday – Milton Keynes Theatre

Writers: Michael Gyngell and Mark Haddigan from the screenplay  by  Ronald Cass and Peter Myers 

Director: Racky Plews

Reviewer: Maggie Constable

At Milton Keynes theatre this week we dive on that red bus for a trip across Europe with Summer Holiday, the musical based on the iconic 60s movie of the same name which starred Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Featuring many of Cliff Richard’s famous hit singles of the era, this musical is a new production.

Summer Holiday The Musical tells the tale of young Don and his London Transport colleagues Steve, Cyril and Edwin, all mechanics, as they travel together in a double-decker bus they’ve jazzed up. They are off to visit Paris, the Alps, Italy and finally Greece. It’s set to be a boys’ summer adventure full of fun and laughter but en route they are joined on board by an all-girl singing group, Do-Re-Mi, and a young, female pop star from the U.S.A who is escaping from home and a very dominant mother. For the gallant boys, it’s not enough to try to get the girl group to Athens and to help their little stowaway pop star – the whole crew even rescue a bridal party in Italy. And there is plenty of romance on board too.

Ray Quinn, as Don, (the role originally taken on in the film by Cliff Richard) holds the show in many ways and bears an uncanny resemblance to Cliff Richard at times. He has real charisma and a superb singing voice. He is definitely the loudest singer – but that may also be his microphone. He is a natural and easy mover and dancer. His rapport with Barbara (Sophie Matthew) works well and their rendition of Young Ones, in terms of both singing and dancing, is lovely. Matthew has a fairly powerful voice, which only very occasionally falters.

Billy Roberts brings us Steve and does so with a certain style and a charming voice full of tone. His amour, Mimsie, is portrayed by Gabby Antrobus who demonstrates definite stage presence, dances with pizazz and has a strong, melodic voice.

The first act does not quite gel, partly due to a lacklustre opening with a very simple set, and partly because the show does not quite seem to have bedded in yet. Timing in the delivery of comic lines is also a tad off. However, one cannot fault the performers for their passion and their energy and it is clear that there is much potential here. The singing, the harmonies and the dancing are all good. Racky Plews’ choreography is dynamic and uses the stage well.

The second act works better and really engages the audience from the start. The Heelies routine is wonderful. Justice is truly done to numbers such as Living Doll and Do You Wanna Dance? and, of course, the Summer Holiday reprise. The encore brings it all together nicely and the audience is singing along and toe-tapping.

This is a fun show which will doubtless come together more as the tour progresses. Worth seeing if the big red bus comes your way.

Runs Until 19 May 2018  | Image: Contributed

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