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Summer Holiday The Musical at New Alexandra Theatre - Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday
This nostalgic musical based on the iconic Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday harks back to breezier, gentler times when everyone in Britain loved Europe and young women had no reason to worry about getting a lift with four unknown men.

Summer Holiday, Ray Quinn, uk tour, Birmingham new Alexandra Theatre review
Light relief in Summer Holiday The Musical

As a feel-good piece of theatre, Summer Holiday The Musical is light relief from the troubles of Brexit and modern-day worries, where you can slip back into 1963 and sing along, swaying gently to We're All Going On A Summer Holiday.

This production starring Ray Quinn is on its UK tour and skipped into Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre for almost a week from June 12 until 16.

It's a slick affair and director Peter Yates does a good job of keeping the action moving between big song and dance numbers that are essentially a back catalogue of Cliff favourites.

While music from the original film is in there like Bachelor Boy, A Swinging Affair, and, of course, Summer Holiday, other Cliff Richard songs from different periods have been added including Constantly, Living Doll and The Young Ones.

Summer Holiday, Ray Quinn, uk tour, Birmingham new Alexandra Theatre review
Ray Quinn is in the driving seat in Summer Holiday

For those who don't know the story, it is about four British transport workers who take a summer holiday across Europe in one of London's red double-decker buses. En-route, they befriend and help three English women whose car has broken down by giving them a lift to Athens.

There's further romance when they pick up a stowaway, who they believe is a 14-year-old teenage American boy, but is actually a famous young American songstress in disguise as she has run away from her overbearing manager/mother.

Although it may be a little dated, there's a charm about the show and the retro high jinx that goes with it. Carefree moments like the group having to pass off as entertainers by miming in order to escape being arrested at border control.

Summer Holiday, Ray Quinn, uk tour, Birmingham new Alexandra Theatre review
Songs include Living Doll and Bachelor Boy

Taking on the role of Don, which was played by Cliff Richard in the movie, is X Factor runner-up Ray Quinn. He stands out from the rest of the cast and is hugely impressive. Quinn has a warm, mellow voice that does justice to the songs and on top of that, is a natural, experienced dancer.

What I liked most though was his tally-ho, 'OK chaps' 1950's accent that actually worked quite well within the retro set. It was a touch of tongue-of-cheek along with some other Cliff mannerisms. It put a smile on my face anyway.

For the generation coming back to remember their youth, the other famous name on the bill is 1970's music star Bobby Crush in a periphery role as Jerry. He's the stepfather of runaway singer Barbara and is the comedy element of the show as a sidekick to demanding mother Stella (Taryn Sudding).

Both Quinn and Crush have to battle for the limelight against the other real star of the show - the life-size shiny, red double-decker bus. It moves realistically around the stage for their action-packed journey across the continent and is quite the eye-catcher.

Summer Holiday, Ray Quinn, uk tour, Birmingham new Alexandra Theatre review
Slick dance and song routines in Summer Holiday

What works about the musical is that you feel like the bunch of characters are having fun and you've been invited along for the ride. There's a sizzle of romance, particularly with the shower scene when Quinn shows off his six-pack.

Added to that are some above average dance routines, particularly the alpine skiing number, done with the dancers wearing trainers with wheels to zip across the stage.

The soundtrack is also a big tick for Cliff Richard fans, although Living Doll is sung by Sophie Matthew, playing Barbara, which I think was a mistake. I got the impression it left many disappointed as they would rather have heard it from Ray Quinn. He only repeated a final line of the song when the number was over but left you wanting to hear more.

Summer Holiday The Musical is from a time gone-by that will probably feel a bit strange to a younger audience, who didn't live in that era or grow up with the film on television every summer. That said, it's an easy, breezy well-made above-average production with a good cast.

It's a fun, frothy piece of escapism that will make you feel as though there's no more worries for me or you... well for at least an hour or two.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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Why? See romantic musical Summer Holiday on stage
When: June 12 - 16
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Cost: £14 - £48
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