Loving those tiger feet

blockbuster top

Blockbuster The Musical

The New Alexandra Theatre

***

THE component parts of this brand new jukebox musical are impressive. No-one listening to the radio in the 1970's could have escaped the song writing of Chinn and Chap, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.

They churned out hits for the likes of Mud, Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Smokie. Nothing profound, just catchy melodies and lyrics which had the record buying public flooding to buy them. Most of their greatest hits are to be found here.

However music alone does not make a musical, the narrative is supplied by David Soames who co-wrote the musical Time for Cliff Richard. Star quality is provided by Paul Nicholas, who also produces, a seventies pop star in his own right, and veteran of numerous lead West End roles, and more recent pop star, Suzanne Shaw of Hear'say, who herself has found considerable success in musical theatre.

Linking the songs is a plot about a Soho busker in the present time who time travels back to the 1970s - Back to the Future meets Grease -, introducing Mickey Block (Aaron Sidwell), singing in London’s Soho.

Mickey has borrowed money to buy a car. Unfortunately he crashes it without insuring it and is pursued by Charlie Daz, a loan shark to whom he owes money. Taking refuge in Crazy Max’s Retro Record shop, Mickey meets Max (Paul Nicholas), a mystical figure, who discovers Mickey has problems and tells him he can turn his life around if he performs two selfless deeds within seven days.

With Charlie Daz in hot pursuit, Mickey has nothing to lose and agrees. Max tells Mickey to hide in the store’s record booth and as Charlie Daz enters the shop, Max starts the booth spinning and transports Mickey back in time to London where he meets Carol (Suzanne Shaw) and the fun begins.

The cues for the songs are contrived, and part of the fun, hits which vary in their success. Tiger Feet, arguably the strongest of all, is used as an opener after an overture, The Cat Crept In seems a pale imitation afterwards. I'll Meet You at Midnight is surprisingly strong, closing the first half. Thereafter Micha Richardson does a tremendous job with Better Be Good to Me, and the show closes with a medley of the greatest hits of the greatest hits. Why Little Willy a crass novelty tune, is included however is a mystery. It appealed upon release only to ten year old boys; time has not broadened its appeal.

Sidwell, best known as Steven Beale in EastEnders, is the star, oozing charisma and with a fine singing voice, Shaw, holds a tune well too, and is a delight in tight black leather trousers. However Sidwell's duet with rival love interest Aimee Atkinson If You think You Know How to Love Me is the best pairing of the night. Although some will argue about song choice, there can be no argument over the choreography by Rebecca Howell, which is consistently excellent, and energetically performed by an enthusiastic cast

Following a soft world premiere in Dartford, this was only the second venue the show had appeared in, its first proper test in front of a big city audience. Warmly received, it runs to 27-09-14.

Gary Longden

23-09-14

New musical kid on the block

****

THIS new musical on its world premiere tour is ‘busting’ with good songs, and if the audience reaction on opening night in the city is anything to go by it’s heading for a successful run.

Although the story line is a touch fanciful, with a young Soho busker transported back in time from the present to the 1970s, almost Dr Who style, it is an enjoyable format to introduce a string of hits by legendary writing team Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.

It’s a situation that must make veteran pop star Paul Nicholas feel he has arrived in a tardis and is reliving part of his long and successful showbiz career. He plays Crazy Max who runs a retro record shop but has the power to send debt troubled busker Mickey Block into another decade in an effort to turn his life around.

Nicholas also pops up in the 70s, but in a different role, as the story develops, and he has opportunities to prove he still has a pleasant voice in numbers like Living Next Door to Alice and Lay Back in the Arms of Someone.

A fine performance, too, from Aaron Sidwell as Mickey Block who opens the show brightly with Carla Nella (Claire) in Tiger Feet, and Suzanne Shaw sparkles as Carol, lead singer in the Ealing College band, and the first person to befriend the back-to-the-past busker.

Strong contributions, too, from Louise English (Alice), Aimie Atkinson (Teresa) and Tom Millen (Steve and Elvis), while the on-stage band, directed by Robert Wicks, play their part in hits like Little Willy, Blockbuster and Lonely This Christmas. To 27.09.14.

Paul Marston 

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