FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS - THEATRE SEVERN, SHREWSBURY - Sunday 4th November 2012
Only a 60% capacity audience for this show, probably due to the many firework festivities happening.
As the lights dimmed from behind the curtain came the show's signature tune and as the curtain raised the band strike up with "At The Hop" with the four cast members taking to the front of the stage with bundles of energy. The second song had them sat on coffee bar stools acting out "Lipstick On Your Collar", then "Shake Rattle & Roll" before the two girls covered the Shirelles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow". The first touch of humour came as Rachel (who could easily be mistaken for Billie Piper) was pulled and dragged about the stage as she played the female part in "Come Outside". Bass player & show produce Bob Newman took lead vocal on "Great Balls of Fire" before Carole Gordon gave us "Sweet Nuthins" more top 50s tunes followed including "It's Late" and "High School Hop" before Bob took to centre stage to perform the show's title song which I felt could have been a key higher. A number of popular instrumentals from the era followed including the "Match of the Day" theme. Roy Orbison's "You've Got It" was a joint offering from Bob & Carole before the cast went into a Motown medley that included - "Want You Back" "Can't Help Myself" "Stop In The Name Of Love" "Reach Out" "Walk Away Renee" "You Can't Hurry Love" and "My Guy/Girl".
A solo version of "My Prayer" from Jamie Steen took the band into "C'mon Everybody" before the cast rejoined the stage in yet another costume change of orange & black mini dresses, orange shirts & black trousers ( One could have easily mistaken them for "EasyJet" staff) taking us into a medley of 60s hits that included "Twist & Shout" "Hippy Hippy Shake" "These Boots Are Made For Walking" "My Generation" "Shout" "Do Wah Diddy" and closing the first half "I'm A Believer".
With the cast dressed in jeans, checked shirts and wearing straw hats the second half kicked off in country / hillbilly style with "Hillbilly Rock" "Cotton Eye Joe" and "5678" before exiting the stage leaving the band perform The Tremeloes' "Here Come My Baby".
Returning to the stage Carole performed a selection of Carpenters hits (I must point out that with the band she also tours a Carpenters show "Voices of the Heart"). Whilst her voice had held out in the first half a cold / sore throat had taken hold in the interval and she had trouble on the vocals of "Close To You" "Yesterday Once More" "Please Mr Postman" and "Jambalaya".
With lead guitarist Andy Saphire and bass player Bob joining male cast members Jamie and Alistair it was time for some 70s rock n roll Showaddywaddy style featuring "Dancin' Party" "Hey Rock n Roll" "3 Steps To Heaven" "Under The Moon Of Love" and "Pretty Little Angel Eyes". What dissapointed me with this part was that only the 2 cast members wore draped jackets. It wouldn't have taken much for the 4 musicians to don a drape and make the set look more authentic.
Following another number a voice over announced a celebration of the music of Burt Bacharach. This included "what The World Needs Now" "San Jose" "This Guy Is In Love With You" "Say A Little Prayer" and "Trains & Boats & Planes".
More popular tunes followed including "Always Something There To Remind Me" "Anyone Who Had A Heart" "What's New Pussycat" and "You Raise Me Up" before Andy on lead guitar took to lead vocal on "Country Boy At Heart" with some instrumental solo from the keyboard this lifted the tempo again as the cast returned wearing silver & purple outfits to close the evening with a medley of Abba hits - "Gimme Gimme" "SOS" "Money Money" Take A Chance" "Dancing Queen" "Mama Mia" before ending with "Thanks For The Music". Not sure about the boys costumes, thought they had fallen off a couple of Christmas Trees, and did Jamie really need to camp it up? Informing the audience that the show was on You Tube, follow them on Facebook and on Twitter it felt to me like the finale of a pantomime.
The first half flowed well with good pace but I felt that the second was a bit disjointed and didn't flow as well. Also the advertising offered "Side-Splitting" comedy, apart from a couple of minor comical moments there was a sheer lack of comedy from this production. Having seen the show when it had comedy it lived up to its billing, but not tonight. As the last night of the current tour perhaps the show had run out of steam.
However, if you like a show that takes you on a musical journey from the 50s through to the 70s then check it out, when in your area.
Cast members: Carole Gordon, Rachel Cantrell, Jamie Steen, & Alistair Willmot.
Band Members:- Bob Newman (Bass. Producer), Chris Burgess (Drums / Musical Director), Richard Luck (Keyboards), and Andy Saphir (Lead Guitar).
For more information visit the website Forever in Blue Jeans UK .Com