Thursday, 18 October 2018

Yearning for freedom at the heart of a toe-tapping treat

THERE was Sixties seaside nostalgia aplenty in this fabulous romp, which took us from caravan site

THERE was Sixties seaside nostalgia aplenty in this fabulous romp, which took us from caravan site to US airbase with lots of candy-coated pop such as

Viva Las Vegas

Sweets for My Sweet

Then He Kissed Me

Green Onions
, while touching on some more serious themes such as race and post-war teenage freedoms.

Written by

Birds of a Feather
creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, with the hits of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman among others, this was a touching love story with lots of comedy asides.

It’s 1963 and two young girls from Luton, Jennifer and Marie, are holidaying in Lowestoft and keen to shake off the careful watch of their staid parents, who are all too wary of the young airmen who are “oversexed, overpaid and over here”.

With hilarious language differences (“Are you here on vacation?” “No, we’re on our holidays”), there were lots of contemporary in-jokes (“You’re never alone with a Strand”) and boppy little tunes as the sisters segued from airbase to promenade to caravan and back again.

Slightly more worldly-wise older sister Jennifer falls for the charms of local ice-cream man Carlo, a Neapolitan from Wolver’ampton, while little sister Marie finds herself head over heels in love with airman Curtis, but no one seems to believe it’s the real thing.

As a black American from the deep south, Curtis has to deal with some racial tension as well as fight to hold on to his girl, while everyone seems convinced it’s just a holiday romance.

Antony Costa appeared with a great pseudo-Elvis wiggle as he cracked on to every girl in sight, while the love story between Marie and Curtis was expressed wonderfully, with a sublime rendition of

Can’t Get Used to Losing You
while the two are separated and Curtis is briefly banged up for fighting to defend her honour.

We were treated to some wonderfully choreographed dancing and some rousing, upbeat ditties from the airbase band, with people from the audience standing up and boogieing towards the end. A great toe-tapping, singalong treat.

Save the Last Dance for Me is playing at the New Theatre, Oxford, from Monday, July 18, to Saturday, July 23.

Review: Natalie Aldred

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