REVIEW: Be Bop A Lula, Ambassador’s Theatre ✭✭✭


Be Bop A Lula is billed as a “Rock n Roll Tribute” to the music of Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, Bill Fury and Roy Orbison. It’s basically a concert of classic rock and roll, without much else to hold it together as a concept.

As with so many Rock and Roll legends Cochrane, Vincent and Fury all died tragically young, their lives making for great theatrical storylines.

Lars Young plays Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent. Young wavers between impersonation with Orbison to a general characterisation with Vincent and delivers a string of hits with conviction. His Orbison is especially polished as he succeeds in droves in bringing The Big O back to the stage with hits including Pretty Woman and Only The Lonely.

Gavin Stanley plays Eddie Cochran and Billy Fury. Stanley is an accomplished performer, who opts for characterisation rather than impersonation with great results. Songs like Wonderous Place and C’Mon Everybody were standouts.

On the night I saw Be Bop A Lula, Peter Gill was special guest brining his Jerry Lee Lewis into this heady mix of musicians, ensuring that the closing of both acts was explosive and really brought the show to life. Gill’s larger than life Lewis was something to behold, a wide-eyed, stoned force of nature.

Musically Be Bop A Lula is a triumph. Featured band The Wild Caps are fantastic, ensuring that the sound of the era is replicated exactly with excellent musicianship.

Where the show fails is in deciding just what it is. Is it a dramatized recreation of a concert in London or is it trying to achieve some other aspirations? The addition of a Preacher character as host/narrator and a rather bizarre opening to the show don’t help to clarify this. I got the impression that even as a concert, Be Bop A Lula would benefit from the help of a director to pull together the disparate elements of the night and create a cohesive whole.

What really helped on the night was a phenomenally responsive audience, some in period outfits, that were there to celebrate the music. They were active participants who gave the night a real drive and momentum. It’s just a shame that in a theatre setting most had to remain seated. I got the feeling that nearly all would have preferred to be up and dancing.

Be Bop A Lula is a well-staged concert, to expect anything more would invite disappointment. What you will get from Be Bop A Lula is an evening of great music, delivered by an ensemble of performers with a love of the material that ensures it is performed with the love, care and respect that great Rock And Roll deserves.

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