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Save the Last Dance for Me

Malvern Festival Theatre


For an evening of ‘feel-good’ nostalgic entertainment, this show is a great success!

It combines energy, colour, lively music and romance to give audiences a wonderful evening of fun and diversion and retrospective enjoyment of 1960s songs.

The show has a light plot that is of minor significance. Two sisters -  the younger one is 17 years old – decide that to holiday with their parents is likely to be dull. They prefer to go off to Lowestoft together and stay in a caravan, where they discover the night-life provided by the US airmen at a base in that area.

The airmen are looking for a bit of skirt to enliven their stay away from their homeland; Marie, the more innocent teenager of the sisters, is dreaming of a handsome young prince to live with her forever.

This simple context provides the framework on which to hang the hit songs of the prolific writers Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman whose creativity produced hundreds of successful songs for better known artists of the 60s like Elvis Presley, the Drifters, the Beach Boys and others.

The music is paramount in this show and the live band were fabulous. It was wonderful to have a variety of lead singers of whom Jason Denton(Curtis), Elizabeth Carter (Marie), Sackie Osakonor (Rufus) were particularly good. Denton has a lovely mellow voice while Carter’s voice is clear, powerful and enchanting.

The way in which the musicians slipped into the acting roles – Rachel Nottingham and Kieran Kuypers as saxophonists and parents, Alan Howell as Carlo and guitarist – worked brilliantly and added variety and entertainment.

So too was there great variety in the songs: the unaccompanied Hushabye with the humming and clicking was terrific and so different to many of the regular numbers with the band.

Visually the show is very impressive too. The scene with the deckchairs on the cold and empty British beach, and another on the railway station at Lowestoft with the public reading their newspapers, books and magazines were striking and visually contrasted with the dance floor and band at the US air force base which was all flashing lights etc.

The cut-out dropped in to represent the caravan and the campsite was simple and effective and at the end the final backdrop of twinkling stars was an enchanting context for the final songs and action.

The dancing of the female cast was particularly good. The casting of many of the male roles was noticeably a bit older! The choreography was excellent, the comic acting by Alan Howell as Carlo was brilliant, but the eye was invariably caught by the performance of Elizabeth Carter as both singer and actress. She was, in terms of the narrative, the centrepiece and, with the support of the lighting design, engaged the audience in the emotions of the romantic story with her charm and youthfulness. Similarly, Antony Costa (Milton) is a strong actor.

There is a little adult innuendo but for the most part this is very light and innocent fun. As the show comes to a climax the cast encourage the audience to participate and rise to their feet. It is all slick and excellent light entertainment – an escapist evening that delights especially those who remember that era. To 23-04-16.

Tim Crow


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