Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Sounds of the '70s from Suzi Quatro to Sweet
Musicals based on pop and rock stars has become all the rage since the success of Abba's hits in Mamma Mia and Queen's in We Will Rock You.
The latest in this genre - Blockbuster The Musical - has been produced and directed by theatre and TV star Paul Nicholas (of Just Good Friends TV show fame) and came to Birmingham on its premiere UK tour.
Blockbuster The Musical brings hits of the 1970s to Birmingham
This time, it's all about the 1970s with songs written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who created a cavalcade of hits for Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Mud and more, all of which get the theatrical musical makeover.
A live band draws the audience into the opening number of Tiger Feet and places the emphasis firmly on the music and dance routines.
In comparison, the story is a flimsy, time-travelling affair. A sort of Back To The Future meets Grease.
Our hero is young busker Mickey Block, played by actor Aaron Sidwell (Steven Beale in EastEnders). He's in debt, with money-lenders on his back, when he runs into a bizarre musical hall of fame to escape them and meets old rocker Crazy Max (Paul Nicholas), who sends him back in time to a college in the 1970s, where he must carry out two good deeds to return to the present day.
It's here that Mickey gets to know a gang of teenagers with their own problems, including Carol, played by former Hear'Say singer Suzanne Shaw.
Suzanne Shaw stars in Blockbuster The Musical
Blockbuster The Musical has got some household names in the line-up and a great soundtrack - including Oh Carol, Living Next Door To Alice, Mickey, Can The Can and, of course, Blockbuster.
There were, however, some sound problems and it was difficult to often hear what many of the younger cast members were saying or singing. It was the more mature members of the cast, actors Paul Nicholas and Louise English, whose songs stood out and were much clearer, but that seemed to be down to their better diction.
The story was also a bit disjointed at times, and while entertaining enough, wasn't on a par with similar rock musicals on the theatre circuit.
1970s pop hits galore feature in the show
A real positive about this show is the choreography and you get the feeling that it's also being a bit tongue in cheek when backing dancers in the style of Pan's People float on to stage.
The group dances featuring songs Blockbuster and Can The Can are also particular highlights.
Overall, this is a light, fun average piece of escapism with a selection of memorable 1970s hits, but it's no blockbuster.
BLOCKBUSTER THE MUSICAL
New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
September 23 - 27