Save the Last Dance for Me is the story of two sisters, Jennifer (Lola Saunders) and Marie (Elizabeth Carter), who go on holiday together to the seaside in Lowestoft in the summer of 1963.
There they visit the local army base, where innocent 17 year-old Marie meets the love of her life, American airman Curtis (Jason Denton). After a few minor problems, such as the colour of Curtis’ skin and the fact Marie is still in school, the couple are finally united at the end of the show. Jennifer also finds love along the way, falling for the ice-cream man Carlo (Alan Howell), whose Wolverhampton-Italian accent had the audience laughing and cringing in equal measure. Laughs were also provided by ‘punny’ dialogue, which played on the difference between American and English slang, as well as supplying a few moments of cheeky innuendo.Despite a predictable and transparent storyline, the show was thoroughly enjoyable because of the 60s Rock ‘n’ Roll music. Featuring the hits of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and including Viva Las Vegas and A Teenager in Love, the show manages to include over 25 chart-topping, foot-tapping classics. This was particularly enjoyed by older members of the audience, who loved singing along to songs which were hits in their younger days.
These songs were performed by a fantastic live band, whose members were on-stage and part of the action of the show as it developed. They were without a doubt my favourite part of the show, and it was refreshing to see the band interacting with and becoming part of the cast, rather than being separated in the pit. Some of the songs were also performed a cappella, and many of the cast had truly fantastic voices, particularly Sackie Osakonor (Rufus), and the sweet, clear voice of Carter, which truly won the hearts of the audience. Unfortunately this did not include Antony Costa (Milton), whose voice paled in comparison to that of Osakonor in spite of Costa’s claim to fame- being a former member of the boy band Blue.
These musical numbers were of course accompanied by fantastic Rock ‘n’ Roll dancing, choreographed by Bill Deamer. The energetic and entertaining cast created an atmosphere of fun nostalgia for the audience, which despite occasionally being marred by awkward segues into the songs themselves, refused to be dampened.
Overall, Save the Last Dance for Me was a fun whistle-stop tour of 60s Rock ‘n’ Roll. This feel-good musical left me grinning, and certainly was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. Although it certainly has narrative flaws, the show made for a pleasant, light-hearted night, and I’ll be singing the infectiously catchy soundtrack for days to come!
This review was originally published on the Redbrick News website, 19th May 2016.