Jackie The Musical
23rd March 2016
Churchill Theatre Bromley (UK Tour)
Book Now For Jackie
From 1964 to 1993 Jackie was a publishing phenomena aimed at young girls across the UK. The magazine for “go-ahead teens” became part of the cultural zeitgeist embracing music, fashion and the spirit of several generations of teenagers. Now, many years later, Jackie the musical is embarking on a major UK tour and its fans have come out in force to celebrate and to embrace a musical, which is brimming with nostalgia and loaded with fun.
Jackie The Musical is in basic terms a jukebox musical. Jackie, a middle aged, soon to be divorced mum, faces the future and whilst packing to move encounters her younger, more idealistic self. It’s very much life wearied realism meets young starry-eyed optimism, and it makes for a thoroughly enchanting premise for a musical. Not since the early days of Mamma Mia! has audience and show been as one. It was the ultimate love fest, the audience were on-board, the music pumped like we were back in the seventies, and everyone was in heaven. Who could ask for more?
There are some fantastic performances from a cast who seem to be having oodles of fun on stage. Janet Dibley is a fabulous “older” Jackie. Now with a twenty year old son and a failed marriage, Dibley manages to infuse older Jackie with just the right mix of humour and emotion to make her an real, incredibly believable character but never someone to be pitied. As Young Jackie, Daisy Steele is a perfect counterbalance to older Jackie. Intergenerational humour bounces between the two. As Jackie’s best friend Jill, Lori Haley Fox rounds out the trio of leading ladies in this good-humoured trip down memory lane. These three wonderful actresses drive this trip down memory lane, with squeals of delight coming from audience members around me as favourite memories or moments of their youth were played out on stage.
Michael Hamway plays David, Jackie’s son. It’s a wonderful performance with a spectacular twist that had every member of the audience gasping with delight and embarrassment in equal measure. His rendition of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy was nothing short of brilliant and had the ladies (and some of the men) around me screaming for more.
Bob Harms provides some great comedy moments as Frankie, the metro-sexual barman. Harms came close to stealing some scenes but ensured that the tone always remained light and fun.
The men in Jackie’s life ex husband John (played by Graham Bickley) and new beau Max (played by Nicholas Bailey) are loaded with character flaws, but are written off as unworthy of Jackie. Both Bickley and Bailey turn in solid performances, but it’s a night that ultimately belongs to the girls. Like Sex And The City, it’s the men in this show that are ultimately at the mercy of the women, their decisions raise eyebrows and give us plenty of laughs.
Director Anna Linstrom and book writer Mike James together with Set and Costume Designer Tim Shortall have ensured that the world of Jackie the magazine bursts off the stage. The magazines infamous speech bubbles, period fashions, and advice gurus Cathy and Claire, combined with mirror-balls to ensure that Jackie the musical was imbued with fun and love from start to finish.
Musical Director Dan de Cruz and his tight on-stage ensemble of musicians deliver hit after hit from Crazy Horses, to I Love To Love. It’s a delight to hear these songs performed so well with such incredibly tight arrangements and superb musicianship.
Choreographer Arlene Phillips has worked her magic to put the boogie in this nostalgic evening in the theatre. No move was too cheesy, as Phillips made this cast dance with moves that suitably invoked the past and the present.
By the end of the show, the entire audience was on its feet. Nobody wanted to leave, everyone wanted more.
Jackie The Musical is a show that I fully intend to revisit. Dig out your seventies fashions, grab your friends and book your tickets for two hours of absolute joy in the theatre. You’ll be glad you did.
Photos: Pamela Raith