Cowboys - and girls - down the social

Home on the . . . working mens' club: Carol (Ally Holmes) and Annie (Faye Tozer) dance into line.

Rhinestone Mondays

Wolverhampton Grand

****

JOE Graham's Rhinestone Mondays opens with a ‘wow' and never drops the pace from  that moment on.

This is a show about ‘love, life … and line dancing' and is laced with great country and western hits, some with unexpected comic interpretations.  

We get to know, and become fond of, the eight well-defined characters very quickly.

Anthony Topham  as Tom opens with Dance the Night Away and shows us he has a few delectable moves.

Shaun Williamson is Brian, the owner of the Warbleswick Working Men's Club, whose business is drying up due to local competition from the Munching Mule.  He hopes things will improve when the line dancing group start meeting at WWMC on Monday nights, but sadly no-one's drinking.  Williamson is not only a good character player but a damned good songster to boot.  He also provides one of the finest comedy moments with Stand By Your Man.

This is also a tale of two lonely hearts brought together through the under-subscribed line-dancing club.  Dance teacher and single mum Annie (Faye Towser) has been around a bit (Guys Do It All The Time). 

Divorced-but-settled, karaoke king, Tom is Brian's friend and most faithful (perhaps only) customer.  Tom and Annie hit if off but there are awkward misunderstandings along the way.

For anyone who has frequented an old-fashioned working men's club, Sara Perks' set captures the very essence of a run-down example, a crumbling bastion of the Club & Institute Union, the CIU.  

A fistful of . . . scratchings and bag of cheese and onion crisps: Clint, or at least Ronald (Phil Pitchard) makes the grand entrance

You can almost smell the beer-stained tables, and the stair carpet hasn't seen a vacuum for many a month.  She also manages to capture an element of romance with the starlit balcony (It's Four in the Morning).

Ally Holmes who plays the dipsy Carol choreographed the show.  The dancing is understated and very well executed by everyone; including the audience for Achy Breaky Heart.  

Lyn Paul, with her model girl figure and great voice plays vamp Sophie.  Phil Pritchard is the suitably, geeky and uptight Ronald (It's Monday, call me Clint”). Ian H Watkins plays Duncan, the only gay in the club with great fun and conviction and Pauline Fleming is unrecognisable as flatulent Mary with sets of false teeth for all occasions.

Overall, everyone is in good voice with great country songs, an uncomplicated story line, authentic set, understated line-dancing and a giant cactus.  There is much amusement and laughter along the way and a happy ending.

I am sworn to secrecy but, even my die-hard rocker husband was cajoled into a few little line dancing steps for the finale.  This, by the way, is a cheeky way of ensuring a standing ovation; having your audience already on its feet for the finale.  Nevertheless, audience appreciation confirmed the show was a huge success. To 17-09-11.

Lynda Ford

Now hold on there, pardner . . . .

*** 

EVEN with a guy in the cast who thinks he's Clint Eastwood, this musical comedy couldn't make my day.

 The story about a line dancing club meeting on Monday nights in the rundown Warbleswick Social Club trots along rather than gallops, despite having former Steps stars Faye Tozer and Ian H. Watkins in the posse.

 It was surprising, because with tracks from classic country music hits like Stand By Your Man, Rhinestone Cowboy and These Boots Were Made for Walking on the programme the show looked promising.

 Only when Lyn Paul, playing club member Sophie, sang Willie Nelson's Crazy in the second act, did the pace start to increase, but it was far too late.

 Shaun Williamson, of Eastenders fame, makes a plausible Brian the barman who, with not enough pints to pull, attempts to teach shy, divorced-after-ten-years Tom (Anthony Topham) how to pull attractive blonde Annie (Faye Tozer). And Pauline Fleming is amusing as veteran linedancer Mary who suffers from flatulence.

 Written by Joe Graham and directed by Phil Willmott, Rhinestone Mondays yee-ha's on till Saturday night  17-09-11

Paul Marston

 

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