Dust off your flares - the sound of the ‘70s is heading to Wearside

Jackie the musical
Jackie the musical
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A Wearside dancer will be helping to transport audiences back to the time of flares and Farrah Fawcett hair with a musical based on an iconic ‘70s magazine.

At the height of its popularity, Jackie Magazine was a bible for teenage girls, a go to guide for advice on boys and ironing hair, as well as words of wisdom from agony aunts Cathy and Claire.

It declined in 1993 with the rise of technology and more risqué publications, but a musical is breathing new life into its pages.

Washington-born Anna Murray forms part of the ensemble and says she’s looking forward to appearing on the Sunderland Empire stage for the first time in her career when the show runs in Wearside this summer.

The former Rickleton Primary School pupil, 23, said: “Back then girls didn’t have mobile phones and social media, all they had to turn to was Jackie and its agony aunts Cathy and Claire. They lived and breathed that magazine.

“My mum was a big Jackie fan, every Friday her and her sister would wait for it to be delivered. It was iconic at the time, and they loved things like its life-size posters of David Cassidy.”

Janet Dibley as Jackie

Janet Dibley as Jackie

The new musical stars actress Janet Dibley, from Eastenders, Doctors and The Two of Us, as Jackie, alongside Nicholas Bailey and Graham Bickley.

It’s supported by Jackie publishers DC Thomson as well as former magazine editor Nina Myskow, and will head up a brand new digital/online TV channel Jackie TV.

Nina said: “I’m so proud to have been editor of Jackie in its golden years in the 70’s. It always was a girl’s best friend, but I could never have imagined then that its spirit of fun and warmth would live on to become a musical today.”

The plot tells the story of a fifty-something divorcée who revisits her stash of well-thumbed Jackie magazines for the same reason she first read them nearly forty years ago: advice on how best to navigate the opposite sex.

Jackie magazine

Jackie magazine

The score is the soundtrack to a generation with hits by Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Marc Bolan and dances choreographed by former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips.

Anna said: “We’re having such a great time dancing to these ‘70s songs every night. It’s really high energy and great fun to be in and Arlene’s dance numbers are great.”

Though Anna, who studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, has appeared in a number of shows, including West Side Story and Sing-a-long-a-Frozen, this will be her first time performing on the Empire stage.

“The Empire was always the theatre I went to as a child, it really sparked my love of theatre, so I can’t wait to perform there,” she said. “My grandad, William Moore, lives in Penshaw and he loves the theatre. He would take me when I was little, so it’s really special that he and the rest of my family can see me in a show there.”

Anna  Murray

Anna Murray

*Jackie the Musical is at Sunderland Empire from July 5-9. Tickets are available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022 or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.