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ASCO: The Supermarket Musical

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 1st May 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

ASCO: The Supermarket Musical – Boulevard, Newcastle upon Tyne


Newcastle’s very own cabaret showbar, Boulevard, played host to the world premiere of ASCO: The Supermarket Musical on Monday evening, proving that price-wars have never been such fun!

The evening was hosted by the venue’s very own Miss Rory – seven feet of sequins and feathers with an acidic tongue that could strip wallpaper with just one sigh! Nobody is safe from her caustic quips, especially when, as on this occasion, she has the BBC 3 cameras to play to. Having warmed-up (or frightened to death?) the crowd, Miss Rory progressed to introduce the main event.

The story centres around Dale (Tom Whalley) a young primary education graduate who, by sheer misfortune, finds himself working in ASDA. This was never the ‘career’ he’d hoped for and he initially despairs at his situation, struggling to comprehend the importance placed upon corporate politics and the battle between ASDA, his employers, and the branch of Tesco situated at the opposite side of a shared car park.

Tom Whalley, who also wrote the book and lyrics, demonstrates great talent as Dale, the idealistic, young would-be teacher whose life spirals into supermarket despair. His geeky, gangly physicality contrasted perfectly with a fantastic vocal prowess that raised hairs on the back of necks as each note travelled from the stage to the rear of the auditorium.

Indeed, the entire cast deserve praise for their talent, energy and enthusiasm. The musical numbers, composed by Alexander Proudlock, are belted out with unabashed gusto and are cleverly choreographed, too.

As you might expect, a supermarket is a rich breeding ground for stereotypical characters and witty one-liners. Whalley uses this as a distinct advantage. We meet Angela (Kylie Ford) and Alan (Liam Olsen) a couple who “met in 1969 at a holiday camp – it was a match made in Haven”, married and set up their own village store and post office which has since become another victim of the superstore in which they both now work; Gavin the greeter (Dan Mawston), as camp as Christmas (“I always find comfort coming in George!”) and still insisting that he is a heterosexual who just hasn’t found the right girl yet; Donna (Jessica Brady), the overweight checkout girl who develops a crush on Dale, despite the fact that he hardly knows she exists, and a whole host of other crazy characters.

Despite the fact that this comedy-musical is essentially a spoof of supermarkets, Whalley manages to pepper it with moments of genuine pathos and poignancy. He ensures that, no matter how exaggerated – or indeed caricatured – his characters are, we do care about each of them. And that’s no mean feat!

Staged as a 45 minute one-act try-out, ASCO: The Supermarket Musical certainly has the potential to be developed into a full-length production.  With more froth than an ASDA own-brand bubble-bath, more fizz than a bottle of Tesco bubbly and more mince than both stores’ butcheries combined, this is no bargain basement production. In fact, you are guaranteed to get more than you bargained for as it is sure to have you rolling in the aisles.

Steve Burbridge.



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Steve, this sounds great! No more performances!? I hope the writers are working hard to complete the project and get this on tour ASAP!!
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