Save The Last Dance For Me – Review – Leeds Grand
Save the Last Dance for Me – Review
Leeds Grand Theatre, April 2013
by Vicky Lomax
A lively, moving and blissfully entertaining production, Save the Last Dance for Me offers pure escapism. The show is a step back through time to the fun-filled summer of ’63. Since the premiere of Dreamboats and Petticoats in 2009, seen by over a million people, jukebox musicals are a big hit with audiences. Following its nationwide success, the team behind ‘Dreamboats’ have created this new irresistible and utterly charming show.
It is a fun and heartfelt story of two teenage sisters, Marie and Jennifer, who embark on their first parent-free holiday to the seaside town of Lowestoft. With a sense of freedom and adventure, the two girls come across a handsome young American. He is also staying at the holiday destination. Romance ensues as they are invited to a dance at the local air force base.
The feel-good musical is the brainchild of Bill Kenwright and written by the famous comedy writing duo Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran; known for the sitcoms The New Statesman and Birds of a Feather. The musical portrays young love, holiday romance and being a teenager in music’s golden era. With an engaging and realistic storyline, the show also depicts life in Britain in the 1960s. From seaside holidays to rock ‘n’ roll dancing, and the very apparent issues with racism. It shows the naivety of teenage girls searching for love, and the stereotypical young men notorious for short-lived holiday romances.
“Passion and enthusiasm”
Upon entering the auditorium, the eye-catchingly retro and colourful proscenium is decorated with postcards and seaside images. Vintage fashion-lovers will enjoy the array of beautiful sixties-style dresses and Mary Jane shoes worn by all the actresses. The period costumes, hair and make-up throughout were stunning.
Much of the show’s appeal and enjoyment is down to the amazing soundtrack. It is full of non-stop hits by the legendary Doc Pomus & Mort Schuman. Classic songs including ‘Teenager in Love’, ‘Sweets for My Sweet’, ‘Little Sister’, ‘Be My Baby’ and the inevitable, ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’, play throughout the show accompanied by entertaining dancing.
Every cast member proves their talents with impressive singing and dancing. However, the lead actress Elizabeth Carter steals the show with her standout performance as love-struck teenager Marie. She beams throughout and her passion and enthusiasm for the show is evident. Carter, who also stars in ‘Dreamboats’, shares some memorable scenes with the lead actor Kieran McGinn, who plays Curtis; the handsome American Air force worker.
“You will smile throughout”
Other notable performances come from Lee Honey-Jones who plays the flirty fellow American, Milton. Verity Jones is excellent as the older sister Jennifer. The entire cast dance and sing faultlessly. They create stunning routines that dazzle the audience. With its witty comedy and stylised acting, the show has a sitcom-feel about it. There’s the odd cheesy joke and a few of the accents needed a polish, but the show still oozes effortless charm.
But what makes Save the Last Dance for Me so special is people having the shared knowledge and enjoyment of sixties music. Everyone can relate to the storyline, indulge in nostalgia and possibly revisit some of their most treasured memories of that era.
When the show comes to an end, a round of applause echoes throughout the auditorium. Some members of the audience give a standing ovation. It is evident that people have really enjoyed the show. Save the Last Dance for Me is light-hearted fun for all ages. But it is really made for those who lived through the golden era. If you love the iconic music, fashion and life of the sixties, you will smile and laugh throughout the show. Most importantly, you will have a great time.
images: Keith Pattison