Monday 9 May 2016

Review: Save The Last Dance For Me at Sunderland Empire

They’re Over Here & Want To Have Fun

Save The Last Dance For Me
Sunderland Empire
Monday 9th  - Saturday 14th  May 2016

Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield present a tale in which two sisters from Luton, Jennifer and Marie, go to Lowestoft for a caravan holiday together. It is 1963 and the cold war is in full swing hence Lowestoft is full of airmen from the local US air base. In this Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran of Shine On Harvey Moon fame tale, the young will find love.

Appearing as the sisters are 2 local ladies in the shape of X-Factor’s Lola Saunders from South Shields, making her stage debut, and Washington’s Elizabeth Carter. Both are very capable of acting, dancing and, most importantly, singing and they get a number of great songs to deliver. Elizabeth, who showed her skill in Dreamboats and Miniskirts, makes easy work of classics such as Teenager In Love. Jennifer shined well during her version of First Taste Of Love.

The 2 sisters are invited by Milton, played by Blue’s Antony Costa, to head to the dance at the local air base. This gave the script an opportunity to look at the attitudes towards relationships and race in 1963. Where the script works really well was highlighting the differences between American and British English. Simple words like chips and fags have a whole different context on either side of the Atlantic.

Across at the base Marie meets Curtis with whole she quickly falls for. Jason Denton is very charismatic as Marie’s love interest and has a great voice to boot. In fact Sackie Osakonor and Alan Howell also have a fabulous tone when singing in their roles as Rufus and Carlo.

The US base setting fits in well with the selection of American teenage love songs that regularly pepper the action. The fabulously tight band are on the dance hall’s stage for most of the show. The music is a real highlight of this show. The band are capable of accurately reproducing the memorable hits including Please Mr Postman and Young Blood.

Members of the audience were up dancing when the company played the finale of classics such as Sweets For My Sweet and Viva Las Vegas.  

This is a show that knows its audience and does not disappoint them. Director Bill Kenwright has ensured the tale flows with enough pace that the story doesn’t drag.  Good choices of songs, that are well delivered, serve the story well rather than feeling like they’ve been shunted in on the slightest pretence.

The story of young people exploring their first relationships is nothing new but this is a happy positive tale wrapped with 24 carat gold hits that will bring pleasure to many. A talented band and delightful singers, especially Elizabeth Carter, make Save The Last Dance For Me an entertaining show.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or
*calls cost 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

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