REVIEW – Save the Last Dance for Me, Sunderland Empire

Bill Kenwright production of'SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME'by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran'directed by Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan
Bill Kenwright production of'SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME'by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran'directed by Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan
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EARLY 60s music, dancing and dated attitudes were the focus in Save The Last Dance For Me, a musical featuring hit songs from the era by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

The storyline followed sisters Marie and Catherine on their first holiday without their parents to a caravan park in Lowestoft where the naïve teenager Marie and older more cynical Catherine, meet a group of US soldiers stationed in the small town.

Trouble begins when Marie falls for African-American soldier Curtis and a slightly watered-down race relations narrative ensues.

The plot was roughly wound around the songs in the show and was perhaps the weakest element of the production.

Megan Jones was just the right amount of saccharin sweet and charming innocence as 17-year-old Marie, with a belting voice to back the performance up.

The whole cast were pretty spot on with their singing but Tosh Wanogho-Maud, as Rufus and AJ Dean as Milton were particularly impressive in the vocal department.

A surprise falsetto performance in Hushabye, from Brummie ice cream man Carlo, played by Graham Weaver, was a real show stealer.

The live on-stage band were the highlight for me, alternating playing their instruments, singing and dancing with impressive ease and having live music on stage, rather than an off-stage orchestra, gave the 60s-style dance hall an authentic feel.

The cast delivered classics such as Sweets for my Sweet, Please Mr Postman, Tell Her and Teenager in Love, which went down a storm, with the perfect rock ‘n’ roll dance moves to match.

A few dodgy accents aside, the cast were energetic and their enthusiasm was contagious.

By the end of the show, the crowd were clapping along and a few brave souls were even dancing in the aisles at the front of the theatre.

Hannah Watson