Grand Opera House York – until Saturday 2nd June 2018.
Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
This week the touring production of Summer Holiday The Musical, has hit the beautiful city of York. Based on the 1960’s iconic film starring Cliff Richard, it promised to be the feel-good musical of the year, bringing us music, fun and laughter, but did it deliver all that was promised?
This is the story of Don (Ray Quinn), a bus mechanic, who with the help of friends Steve, Edwin and Cyril, renovate an old London bus in order to escape the unpredictable English weather and have an amazing summer holiday. Their plan is to go to the South of France and visit St Tropez, after all there is guaranteed sunshine. In this case though, best laid plans go awry when they encounter a stranded group of girl singers on their way to Athens for a gig. Plans change and the bus is rerouted across the Alps to Italy and then Greece. Even then on their merry way they manage to pick up a stowaway Bobby, or should I say Barbara (Sophie Matthew), who isn’t the young lad that she pretends to be, but an American singer escaping the pressures her domineering mother has heaped upon her.
I waited in excitement, along with the audience around me, for that curtain to go up and to be whisked away on a Summer Holiday. Once the band started playing and the cast singing it became obvious that there was an issue with the sound. The band, though very good, were just far too loud and the voices of the singers far too quiet, I for one couldn’t make out anything that was being sung and listening to the comments around, I wasn’t the only one. This did go on for quite a while, but did improve when Quinn appeared on the stage, not sure if it was a mic issue or if he just had stronger vocals. As the show progressed the rest of the casts vocals were not quite as drowned out but were still not loud enough. When the bus first appears on the stage it is a sight to see, moving all over and becoming an integral part, as it should.
Quinn was a charming and charismatic Don. Quinn is a great singer and dancer, definitely the star of the show, it was engaging to watch him on the stage, a natural performer. My only criticism though was his accent. At times it was a bit all over the place and was trying to be too posh (not succeeding), after all the character is a working man from London in the 60’s.
I also enjoyed watching Billy Roberts as Steve, on the stage, a bit of a cheeky chappy who is a terrific dancer and singer, even when things were flying out of his pocket during the encore. All credit must go to the passionate cast, who were so very energetic and sang and danced their hearts out non-stop, even with the sound issues. I must mention the goats!! A surreal and totally bonkers part of the show that got me laughing in the car on the way home, even now it makes me chuckle. I’m not going to say anymore, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
The first act was not that great but I’m glad to say that things did improve in the second act. Unfortunately the show was just lacking that special something that would, and should have made it a great show, one that I was so looking forward to. Hopefully as the tour continues things will improve and it will become the musical that it promises to be. It is worth giving this show a chance.