As the nights draw in and our mobile phones send holiday snaps into the memory cloud, those lazy, hazy summer days seem far away – unless you’re heading to The Regent this week.
Summer Holiday is based on the popular film made famous by Cliff Richard. Action centres around four bus mechanics who take a red double decker on tour to the Continent, initially for a holiday to the South of France. But there are more twists and turns on the journey than they could have imagined. Along the way they meet an all girl singing group and a young man who is not who he seems – as well as ending up on an unscheduled stop in Athens.
In truth, the story is secondary to the songs and the choreography (think free-wheeling West Side Story). At first the sound levels made it difficult to tune in, but once that settled down, the cast truly got everyone on board with their wholesome but sometimes ‘saucy seaside postcard’ kind of fun. As the announcer says at the start of the show: “Hold on to your seats as we take you back to 1963 to a sunny day in good old Blighty.” It really is the start of an escapist trip down memory lane. The hit songs just keep on coming in this show, Living Doll; Do You Wanna Dance; The Young Ones and of course Summer Holiday.
Former X-Factor finalist Ray Quinn plays Don, the lead role. Ray was runner-up to Leona Lewis in the TV talent show but here he definitely isn’t in the shadow of anyone, not even Cliff, as he makes the part his own in a most charmingly British way – although perhaps sounding a little too posh for a London bus boy. However the very down-to-earth sight of him singing Bachelor Boy in his underpants will stay with many for a long time!
There are some crazy surreal moments including a mime set-piece and dancers dressed up as goats, and well done to two of the ensemble who play the different border guards at each country the bus passes through in a great ‘Allo ‘Allo kind of style. Also a shout-out to the actual bus which steers itself around the stage majestically and often is the centre of the action.
By the end of the show all the characters are enjoying a holiday romance, and all the audience has had their spirits lifted. Everyone was on their feet dancing and clapping to a reprise of the hit songs and it seemed as no one wanted this particular Summer Holiday to ever end and go home.
You can catch this particular love bus each night at 7.30pm at The Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday October 6th. There are also matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.
Tickets are available from the Box Office, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke
Review by Jackie Gregory