SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME at Malvern Theaters

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Creators of the hit show Dreamboats and Petticoats return to Malvern Theatres with their other jukebox musical Save The Last Dance For Me showcasing the works of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Timeless classics such as Viva Las Vegas, Sweets For My Sweet, Teenager In Love, And Then He Kissed Me, Please Mr Postman and Tell Her are interwoven into a charming love story set on an American Air Force base in ‘sunny’ Lowestoft in the early sixties. Free from their parents, two sisters escape Luton, heading off to the seaside, finding love and romance in unexpected places.

The romantic lead, Curtis, is taken by James Denton and although he doesn’t seem comfortable playing the love struck GI, he really comes into his own when he serenades the focus of his affections, Marie, reprised by Elizabeth Carter who is delightfully innocent and naïve, with the voice of an angel. X Factor contestant, Lola Saunders, is great as Marie’s feisty, older sister, Jennifer, proving her competence as a comedic actress and dancer, as well as vocalist. Star of the pop band Blue, Anthony Costa, revels in the part of Milton, with a very convincing New York accent and secure vocals. Sackie Osakonor’s muscular stature, as Rufus, is as impressive as his vocals and highlighted the interesting choice of the casting director to cast overweight men in the role of American servicemen.

Audience members were discussing the male physiques during the interval and carrying extra weight in a role where the characters are supposed to be at peak physical fitness is something that the performing arts industry would absolutely not accept from female performers auditioning. It’s important that casting should reflect society and present a variety of body shapes and sizes, however, casting has to be appropriate to each specific role to make it believable and it is part of the actor’s job to then stay in shape. The women clearly recognise the importance of that.

Rachel Nottingham and Kieran Kuypers deliver great performances as Marie and Jennier’s, long suffering parents and Anna Campkin is brilliant as Doris from Leeds. Musical talent oozes from every pore of the immensely gifted cast of actor musicians, who make up the Forces’ band. The rest of the supporting cast deliver slick performances throughout, maintaining the energy and enthusiasm required for such a show.

Bill Deamer’s choreography is bright and cheery and despite being a little repetitive it caters perfectly for the varying dance ability of the cast making everyone look good. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran write simple, but effective dialogue that keeps the story moving along at a pace and Mark Bailey’s set and costume design perfectly compliment the era and vibrancy of the time.

Save The Last Dance For Me is an entertaining and enjoyable night out with a sweet storyline and wonderful, live music.   ★★★★☆    Rob Holcroft    19th April 2016