Heaven? I hope so. I am going to the one performance at Richmond on Sunday 15 October. The TfL website says the District Line tube to Richmond will be running so hopefully I will be able to get there and back home by my usual route. The ATG website lists all the songs and they're very me. I'm hoping to relive my youth...but the chances of that are rather slim, unlike me these days! That picture of me in my current avatar was taken in about 1957 when I was 20. If only...!!
Yes, I was definitely in heaven last night with 'Rip It Up' at Richmond. Despite a rather cheap-looking production, with a dozen or so bright stage lights shining in the eyes of everyone in the front stalls and a row of six large fold-back speakers along the front of the stage, I still had a lovely time sitting in row C. The show ran for almost three hours and we got something like 50 songs from the 1950s sung and danced by a hugely talented cast of six pro dancers, accompanied by an orchestra of six on-stage musicians with a brilliant solo singer (Jill Marie Cooper) all supporting the three stars Natalie Lowe, Jay McGuinness and Louis Smith. The evening was compered by the saxophonist Leo Green whose attempts at humour fell rather flat but somebody had to do it!
The show covered all types of music from the 1950s including Latin (Mambo Italiano, Tequila, Sway, etc), ballads like 'Unforgettable', 'Beyond the Sea' and 'Unchained Melody' as well as all the rock and roll classics by Bill Hayley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, etc. The orchestra was fine in the rock and roll music but not entirely suitable for the ballads and 'standards' but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the show, which was most notable for the unflagging energy of all the performers over a wide range of styles.
Natalie Lowe had apparently put the show together and was bubbly and vivacious in all her numbers. Jay McGuinness is not a natural dancer but executed all the steps he was given and was surprisingly effective in a 'contemporary' balletic pas de deux to 'Unforgettable' with Charlie Bruce (one of the three female pro dancers) and sang nicely as well. Louis Smith, presumably due to his gymnastic training, seemed like a truly natural and complete dancer, finishing all his movements perfectly and he also threw in a few acrobatic flips and jumps that added excitement to his routines. He does however just very slightly tend to stand outside his performance, but that adds a rather special almost aloof quality to his personality. His ‘Fever’ number was a special treat as his ‘smouldering’ persona was given full rein when he danced with each of the girls.
So I had a wonderful time, my pleasure possibly enhanced because I was in my teens during the 1950s and every one of those songs meant something to me, not to mention the effect that the the arrival of 'rock and roll' had on everybody's perception of what 'popular' music was. It really was an amazing time and even more revolutionary than what happened to pop music in the middle of the 1960s when the Beatles and the Stones again changed pop music forever.