Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Cliff's old bus still running strong

Summer Holiday

Highbury Youth Theatre

Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield


An exuberant young company takes us across Europe on Cliff Richard's bus, and the chances are that we all feel better for it.

Directed by Jane Mason, the youngsters make no claim to be singing sensations, but it is to their credit that they come through the many melodies leaving us in no doubt that they have not been unnecessarily Americanised.

Karrisse Willetts, as one of the three-strong girl band whose car breaks down before they join up with four lads intent on making their way to Athens – on that bus – is splendid as Mimsie, the happy, daffy blonde. Emily Ward (Angie) also gives the impression that she is having a good time – but Rose Waits (Alma), though utterly reliable, comes across more seriously, giving us that lovely smile only intermittently and making us think she is more worried than I am sure she is.

The cast - and that bus - during rehearsals for Summer Hoiday

Mark Roberts, Dave Carey, James Cutajar and Oliver Leonard make a strong team as the young men and Jess Ingram (Barbara) is a veritable pocket dynamo as the young woman who somehow manages to convince them that she, too, is a good mate and all male. In the process, she forms a pleasing partnership with Mark Roberts (Don).

There is not a lot of comedy from this large central group. Their main concern is pushing the story along and singing the many numbers that come their way, either with or without a pleasing, hard-working chorus.

But comedy is in excellent hands, mainly from Emily Calderbank, as the noisily authoritative Sheila, and Niko Adilypour (Jerry) – who has acquired a frightening check jacket and a convincingly twangy Bowery Boy accent and is often very amusing.

Roddy Lynch and Patrick Farrell confidently complete the company – aided no end by the unnamed young woman who prompts a ripple of delighted appreciation every time that bus appears in the half-light between scenes in its drastically scale-down form and she claims another five seconds of fame while she pushes it from one side of the stage to the other. Musical direction is by Sufia Szurma-Hasani.

To 10.7.10.

John Slim 

Highbury Theatre Centre

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