Theatre Royal Brighton | until 9th April 2016.
Jackie the Musical | Review
My teenager daughter’s first question when she arrives somewhere new usually involves a wifi password. Back in the 1970s there wasn’t that luxury, the only way keep in touch with the newest ideas about fashion, dating and all things girly were through the pages of magazines. ‘Jackie’ published by DC Thomson was one of the top-sellers, with it’s problem pages, medical advice and beauty tips, it was the YouTube of the 1970s.
Now there is a musical touring the UK based on the popular magazine. Directed by Anna Linstrum with a book by Mike James, Jackie the musical is a huge nostalgia trip especially written for the women that Jackie readers have now become, and featuring a glittering score of 70s hits.
Jackie is in her early 50s and is in the process of packing up her life after divorcing her husband of 20 years,John. Consoling herself with her best friend Jill, a bottle of chilled Prosecco and a sticky toffee pudding, she agrees to get back in the dating game despite her better judgement.
Whilst rummaging through the attic she comes across a pile of her old Jackie magazines which are full of dating advice and she finds herself talking to a teenage, more confident and optimistic version of herself. Young Jackie spills out hilarious advice which she has learned through reading Jackie magazine about what to look for in a boy, how to kiss and beauty advice. Times have changed since the 1970s and both Jackies discover that life is still complicated whether you are 17 or in your 50s.
Yes, so Jackie the Musical is totally cheesy but in this case it works and is all part of it’s charm. The performances of the cast are strong, the music is excellent and there are some great comedic moments that make the audience laugh out loud and cheer.
Janet Dibley (present day Jackie) and Daisy Steere (young Jackie) lead us through the Jackie’s complicated love life as she tries to put John her ex out of her mind and go on a date with smooth talking widower Max (Nicholas Bailey).
Graham Bickley plays ex-husband John who traded Jackie in for a younger model – Gemma the Horse (Tricia Adele-Turner) and is realising that he may have made a mistake, as he is expected to support Gemma in her crazy ‘bucket list’ of things to do before she is 40.
Michael Hamley brilliantly plays Jackie’s teenage son who has dropped out of college to pursue his dream of being a songwriter inspired by the girl of his dreams.
Other strong performances come from Bob Harms, playing Frankie the owner of the local bar whose dream is to obtain 1000 Facebook friends and my personal favourite Lori Haley Fox who has previously played Tanya in Mamma Mia and now plays a similar role as Jackie’s prosecco fuelled best friend Jill, she had me grinning from ear to ear.
Tim Shorthall’s retro style set is simple yet effective and brings in classic elements of Jackie magazine to the show, the costumes also fit the era beautifully and he has managed to make seventies clothing sexy again, which is no mean feat.
As with all Jukebox Musicals the music is integral to the show and is crucial to it’s success. With the choices that have been made for Jackie the Musical they are on to a winner! The songs by Donny Osmond, David Essex, and T.Rex amongst others are so recognisable it is hard resisting to sing along.
The music is enhanced by inspired choreography by Arlene Phillips. Crazy, full of energy and utterly bizarre in places. The ensemble feverishly prance around the stage, tossing pillows, rearrange plastic trees and pretend to be ponies. The dancing whilst spot-on doesn’t take itself seriously and is totally within the tongue-in-cheek theme of the show.
Although it hasn’t got a strong story line like Mamma Mia and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Jackie the Musical is overflowing with the same feel-good factor. It is a lot of fun and the packed audience at the Theatre Royal Brighton last night had the time of their lives. Admittedly we were all about the same age and revelled in the trip down memory lane; I am not sure whether a younger audience would have the same appreciation, but if you are like me, them leave your hubby at home, grab some girlfriends and head over to the Theatre Royal Brighton this week for a bottle of Prosecco and a boogie with Jackie the Musical.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Photos : (C) Pamela Raith
☆☆☆☆ Highly Recommended