Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Barry Manilow had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he wrote this show. Full of his style of music, some ballads, some just plain fun it is bound to get feet tapping.
What this show needs more than anything is enthusiasm from the cast and director Max Rayner has that in this production. MD Gordon Combes leads a brassy ensemble, which punched out numbers like Dancing Fool and Caramba giving the dancers plenty to move to with Carmel Vistoli’s choreography. The sound was generally very good except for a slightly errant horn in the second act.
The first time leads were well matched. Mason Somerville made a very endearing Stephen/Tony, he sings well can definitely move and has good stage presence. Jacinta Vistoli as Samantha/Lola can dance well and handles most of the singing, but struggles in the slower numbers. She also has good presence, but needs to anchor her accent a little better.
In her entrance scene Linda Lawson did not convince as big star Conchita Alvarez, but she hit the mark in the second act making the part hers when she could dance and get angry. Andy Pettigrew made a convincing gangster, but Rico’s song was only just in his range.
Gladys Murphy, played by Jenny Brown, is one of the comedy roles and Brown is a perfect foil for the irascible Brendan Cooney as Sam Silver. Cooney steals nearly every scene he is in with his larger than life portrayal.
There are many colourful dance numbers, executed with energy and commitment. The ensemble plays lots of minor roles, and also moves the set. The set design by Ole Wiebkin is a mixture, some scenes brought to life with colourful drops and moving set pieces and others use a virtually bare stage. Costumes are colourful and bring the era to life, although I expected more showgirl costumes.
In all this a fun night out, full of colour and high energy. It’s nice to see The Met venturing into new areas!