Even before stepping into the theatre, a band of polka-dotted, hair-gelled, twisting singers and dancers performed on the street, setting the mood for this jukebox play… and they were ticket holders! No plot, no characters, just ‘50s Rock ‘n’ Roll.
As soon as the curtain rose, an explosion of technicolour and shocking energy spilled onto the stage in a way that stunned the audience – similar, I expect, to the arrival of the first colour televisions. Even through ripped trousers (I spied one poor dancer, Aaron Sweeney-Harris, spin off twice due to rather embarrassing tears, but with a subtlety that’s worth noting!), the smiles kept coming and the band kept playing with incredible skill and vivacity. Set to such a phenomenal crescendo, this piece of indulgent theatre would have a hard time missing the mark.
The six vocalists (Jamie Capewell, Will Mulvey, Nigel Roche, Kelsey Cobban, Ben Fitzpatrick and Sarah Accomando) were very strong, Mulvey in particular showing superb characterisation and fast becoming the main focus in the second act. Complete with cheesy commentary by Capewell, they acted as guides through the songs and, despite receiving some rather dodgy audience vocal support, their effortless talent captured the spirit of the songs and the stars they were emulating.
Choreographed by Neil Dorward, eight dancers showed both technical prowess and undeniable passion, showing an incredible understanding of the music and the time from which they came. Switching seamlessly from the twist to something as complicated as tap-dancing, there was not a wrong foot or wavering smile to be found.
This is a show for any age – for those who wish to reminisce or others who dream of living in that post-war era of excitement and freedom. Even if the younger audience members, myself included, did not always recognise the songs, there was a real atmosphere of enjoyment that included everyone. If you want to escape and experience the bubbling enthusiasm of the ‘50s, Rock Around the Clock encourages the audience to dance and sing along, making it a production distinctive in its concept and audience response. Not dissimilar to Hair! in the way it encourages patrons to involve themselves, this is a stageshow for anyone looking for feel-good, hand-clapping entertainment