Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Cliff's bus on its travels again

Going on a summer holiday: Eleanor Snowdon (left), Georgia Towler and Kitty Campbell are the girl singers in the Cliff classic

Summer Holiday

Youth Onstage

Old Rep, Birmingham


A BOISTEROUS, confident young company clearly enjoys itself as it gives its audience a seemingly endless succession of hits from the early days of Cliff Richard – and on the first night it was clear that the patrons were delighted to be renewing acquaintance with numbers that had been part of their formative years.

For good measure, one of the talented leads was sporting a Bill Haley kiss-curl. What more could the faithful want, short of the emergence of an Elvis from the wings?

Not that the performers had it all their own way. The follow-spot sometimes got ahead of the game, a push-bike was not properly hidden when it had gone into the wings, and over-amplification meant that the words of songs were often distorted – but this had to be the most minor of inconveniences, because the audience knew all the words anyway.


This is the story of a group of lads who restore a London double-decker bus and set off to tour Europe in it – accompanied by the three-girl pop group they fortuitously happen to meet and who need a lift to Athens. Their adventure gives them the chance to sing about two dozen songs – and not once do they all become American on the instant, which is the current phenomenon of the music industry. Cue disbelief and abiding gratitude.

Josh Coley is excellent as Don, the boys' leader, with James Hudson, Adam Brown and Duncan Burt giving vigorous support and coming light-footed to the dance numbers in which they are involved. Georgia Towler, Eleanor Snowdon and Kitty Campbell sparkle as the girl singers, and Hannah Brook impresses as Barbara, the girl who steals Don's heart. Gemma Hudson brings astute comic touches as her mother, Stella, and Alick Draper pleases as the much-put-upon Jerry.

The chorus in Deb Brook's production maintains a happy smile and thrives on Suzy Petty's choreography – which includes some clever hand-jiving for good measure. Musical direction is by Barry Smart. 

This is not a show that lends itself to colour and spectacle, though these are more in evidence after the interval – but its sound is always impressive. And it has a delightful trick up its sleeve in the form of two miniature buses which deserved the special cheer they received as they made their remote-controlled way across the stage from time to time. To 8.5.10.

John Slim

Box Office: 0121 474 2104  

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate