All Cliff, no edge
MUSICAL Summer Holiday Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith, London
Friday 11 July 1997
Summer Holiday was the innocently sung, sunny story of four teenage bus mechanics, who spend the summer driving around Europe with some girls, having fun. Nobody would have paid the slightest attention but for the fact that, alongside Una Stubbs sporting a fetching pair of peddle-pushers, stood Cliff Richard.
It may be hard to believe, but in those days, the recently ennobled famous Christian, star of Heathcliff and friend of Sue Barker, was a vaguely dangerous presence at the forefront of British rock 'n' roll. He shuddered like Presley, lived at the top of the charts and was known to quiff his hair and curl his lip. These were, however, fundamentally innocent times, the final moments before the Beatles and the Stones when boys turned bad. Given the success of the Sixties revival, turning his most famous vehicle into a stage show was not so much clever as inevitable, but who could capture Cliff's freshmint taste?
Four years ago, somebody smart took a long, hard look at the media concept that was Phillip Schofield and thought about lightning and striking twice. Thus it was that TV presenter and teen idol Darren Day ended up replacing him, grinning and gambling about in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. With his ready smile and ready-made audience, Essex-boy Darren has been switching between TV stardom and musicals ever since. Making good by being good-looking and good... well, nice at least. Summer Holiday? Come on down.
On stage, this turns out not to be so much a musical as a bunch of songs with a storyline attached. It's a Take That concert with more set and less screaming. There's even a boys' underwear moment. Elsewhere, our heroes wear shining white vests, tight trousers and those daft headset microphones which allow them to leap around to Quinny Sacks's choreography - and make them look like out-of-work receptionists. The girls have a penchant for turquoise and polka-dots and bounce around embodying the British version of peachy-keen while Clare Buckfield, looking like a runner- up in a Sally Thomsett-lookalike competition with Karen Carpenter's accent, is amusingly boisterous as the secret love-interest. Thank God for comedy moments from Ross King and Hilary O'Neil. She doesn't exactly steal from Joanna Lumley in Ab Fab as commit grand larceny.
Blond, bland Darren doesn't really bother to create a character, he just wanders around looking and sounding uncannily like Cliff down to the loping vocal inflections and unthreatening presence. He breaks the mood to flirt overtly with his fans (suspension of disbelief? I think not), but everyone laps it up. It's like being at a Cliff concert minus the star and nobody minding. The secret of the show's success? Simple. Director / designer Ultz knows it may be about a bunch of guys on holiday, but it ain't On the Town and he just grins and gets on with it. At the end, they all sing "On the Beach" and you realise it's all one giant BBC Seaside Special. Ultz's unpretentious, non-stop production is bright and brash, from the lighting (more Surprise Pink than Barbara Cartland's boudoir) to the mood which rarely strays from happy. As the audience leapt up to join in the finale, it seemed they were happy too. To 20 Sept. Booking: 0171-416 6080
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Reyhaneh Jabbari: Iran due to execute woman for murder of her alleged attempted rapist
- 2 Sainsbury's '50p challenge' poster telling staff to encourage customers to spend more placed in shop window instead of staff room
- 3 Expert urges cat lovers to own just one animal each
- 4 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 5 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
Cilla, episode 3, ITV - review: Ed Stoppard steals the limelight as Beatles manager Brian Epstein
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
The Jungle Book: A tale as old as time
The Simpsons death: Character killed off - but not the one you thought
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >