Director: Emma Rogers
Reviewer: Iain Sykes
Showbiz back in the 40’s and 50’s really was a different world. A world of glamour, glitz, fantasy and huge Hollywood stars on the big screen. Thank goodness that for those of us who are far too young to remember, and a considerable part of the audience who want to relive it, shows like That’s Entertainment are doing the rounds to take us back to those golden times.
Indeed, the titular opening number contains more sequins than a whole series of Strictly Come Dancing as the dancers shimmer, glitter and hoof their around the stage to set the tone for the evening. The six principals in the cast (Lauren Atkins, Loula Geater, Andy McGuire, Emma Kate Nelson, Simon Schofield and Sean Smith), supported by an ensemble of ten, all take their turn centre-stage as the audience is taken on a whistle stop tour through the songs of Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin and more. Director and choreographer Emma Rogers has ensured that the singing is precise and the dancing sharp from beginning to end. The escapism takes the audience from the heat of South Pacific (Some Enchanted Evening, There is Nothing Like a Dame) to the Rat Pack (Ain’t That a Kick, Luck Be A Lady) with a stop to capture that east end spirit in a Pearly Cockney knees-up with a rare outing for that all time classic, I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.
Good as it is, what sets That’s Entertainment apart from other shows of its ilk, is its employment of headline acts as “Special Guest Stars”. A move to either turn it into more of an old-fashioned variety show or to get more people through the doors. On this particular stay in Manchester, it’s the turn of million selling, harmony group boyband The Overtones, all cheeky grins and tight trousers. Although their choice of seven songs, including Give Me Just a Little More Time and I Love You Baby, may not fit the show’s theme of “the greatest hits of the 40’s and 50’s” they still provide an impressive addition and their own contrasting style to the evening, as well as bringing in quite a few fans of their own to sing and clap along.
That’s Entertainment sets out to give the audience an evening of that forties and fifties nostalgia in its most glamorous form. What it proves to be is a gentle evening of good old-fashioned easy entertainment, with tight dance routines and great voices from the entire cast and guests.
Runs until 14th May 2016