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Summer Holiday the Musical at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 20th Jun 2018 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about going to see Summer Holiday the Musical.

I was barely into my teens when I saw Cliff Richard’s original film and, for me, there is no-one to beat him.

So, I thought, I’ll just wallow in nostalgia. After all, I still know all the words to all the songs: timeless classics like Bachelor Boy, Do You Wanna Dance? The Young Ones, The Next Time, Living Doll and, of course, Summer Holiday!

What I didn’t expect was to ‘put on my dancing shoes’ during the encore, clapping, cheering and waving along with the rest of the audience, including my young friend for whom the sixties belong to the history books. This production raised the Playhouse’s roof!

This really is a feel good show which brought sunshine into Edinburgh on one of its driecht days. Like Cliff’s other early film The Young Ones, it’s wholesome and fun, and gives today’s young audiences a taste of how uncomplicated life could be in ‘the good old days’!

Peter Yates’ original film script, adapted for the stage by Michael Gyngell and Mark Madigan, is about Don and his fellow mechanics who take an old London Transport bus to Europe for a summer holiday. On the way they rescue three girl singers and an American pop star who is running away from her Cruella de Ville-like mother and her agent - the only dark characters in what is a happy-go-lucky whirlwind of love and laughter. But then, maybe without them it would be too sweet?

Once I looked at the programme I knew it couldn’t fail, musically at least. Any show with Keith Strachan behind the orchestration is bound to be a winner and musical director Rob Wicks and his men do him proud.

On opening night the production was a bit slow to start, the sound echoing, but the company was energetic and enthusiastic and when Ray Quinn, in the Cliff Richard role, joined in he took the show to a different level. He may have big shoes to fill but he does a good job; throughout the show there are some lovely harmonies but Quinn’s voice is a cut above the rest and he also more than matches the dancers with his acrobatics.

Don’s mates each have their own characters. Edwin is the more sensitive member of the group but in Move It Joe Goldie really comes into his own as an Elvis sound-alike; Rory Maguire is lovable as the cheeky Cyril, while Billy Roberts is very much the cocky Jack the Lad as Steve.

Gabby Antrobus, Alice Baker and Laura Marie Benson play perfectly the dippy, giggly singers while Sophie Matthews’ American singer Barbara has extra depth, innocence and then passion.

Taryn Sudding as Barbara’s mother is a wonderfully screeching harridan; only Bobby Crush cuts a sad figure as Barbara’s camp agent with an ill-fitting wig. Famous all his life as a pianist, in the encore it was heart-breaking to see him playing a keyboard attached to the back of the bus (yes, the bus has a starring role too) that no-one could hear.

Summer Holiday the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until June 23. It then continues touring:

June 26-30: Plymouth Theatre Royal

July 17-21: Brighton Theatre Royal

July 24-28: Blackpool Winter Gardens

July 30-Aug 4: Leeds Grand

Aug 14-18: Wales Millennium Centre

Aug 23-27: Southend. Cliffs Pavilion

Sept 4-8: Dartford, Orchard Theatre

Sept 11-15: Chester StoryHouse

Sept 18-22: Wimbledon New Theatre

Oct 2-6: Stoke, Regent Theatre

Oct 23-27: Aylesbury Theatre

Oct 30-Nov 3: Glasgow Kings Theatre

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