Seasoned hackette Bev Creagh and flamboyant newshound Stewart Carr give their always opinionated and sometimes opposing views in The Creagh/Carr Review. Here, the’yre united in their praise for Save the Last Dance for Me, at MK Theatre until Saturday, May 28.
CREAGH SAYS ... I knew I’d love Save the Last Dance for Me because the songs comprise the soundtrack of my youth.
But what came as a hugely entertaining bonus was the cast _ I really didn’t expect everyone on stage to be a sensational singer and dancer, but they were.
So it didn’t matter that Elvis wasn’t there in person to croon ‘She’s Not you, belt out ‘His Latest Flame’ or give me goosebumps with ‘Surrender.’
I was halfway to paradise (I feel a song coming on) just hearing all my old favourites sung by this truly talented company.
OK, so the storyline is pretty simple but hey, it works.
Two sisters from Luton (yes, honestly - in this version anyway) go to Lowestoft on holiday. Marie (Elizabeth Carter) is a young innocent, about to experience her first love, while Jennifer (Lola Saunders) is a little more cynical, older and wiser.
They’re invited to an American army base by Milton (Antony Costa) where Marie falls for mixed race Curtis (Jason Denton) while Jennifer has to make do with ice cream merchant Carlo (Alan Howell), who’s actually from Wolverhampton.
The girls’ parents Cyril (Kieran Kuypers) and Mildred (Rachel Nottingham) are typically prejudiced but play a mean saxophone and it all ends happily ever after. Of course.
But in between there are some of the best musical numbers I’ve ever seen on the MK stage, including an amazing acapella version of Sweets For My Sweet which had the audience totally spellbound, before erupting into tumultuous applause.
Former Blue singer Antony Costa is chunkier than his last outing as Prince Charming in Cinderella at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre, but he’s rapidly proving he’s an actor who can sing, and not simply a singer attempting to act.
So Here I go Again, giving This Magic Moment of a show 10 out of 10 and a gold star for all the happy memories.
CARR SAYS ... A nostalgic trip to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll is what this charming musical has in store for viewers.
Save the Last Dance For Me celebrates early rock hits of the 60s, and follows the story of an African-American GI named Curtis (Jason Denton) stationed in Lowestoft, along with his comrade Milton (Antony Costa) .
While there, Curtis falls in love with a sweet 17-year-old girl Marie (Elizabeth Carter) enjoying a seaside holiday with her ballsy older sister Jennifer (Lola Saunders).
Both pairs are like chalk and cheese, with sensitive souls Curtis and Marie finding their way to true love, while Milton and Jennifer are just out for a good ole’ time.
It’s a classic clash of cultures, American and British.
But the story is really just a hanger for the songs, over 30 of them, celebrating the highlights of early rock ‘n’ roll.
I’ll admit I was familiar with only a handful, but it’s hard not to get swept away with the enthusiasm and the dazzling performance of some of the numbers.
An Acapella performance of Sweets For My Sweet absolutely blew me away, and the sheer versatility of the company - with some performers playing instruments, singing, dancing and acting - is something to behold.
I think Alan Howell as dodgy icecream lothario Carlo might just be the show stealer, with an amazing singing voice to boot, but he’s in good company in this quality show.
Save The Last Dance For Me plays at MK Theatre until May 28. See here for tickets.