Bored with Berkoff? Choking on Chekhov? Fed-up with Feydeau? “Don't sleep in the subway, darlin', don't stand in the pouring rain. Go downtown. Things will be great when you're downtown. The lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares.”
This is the ultimate antidote to all your anxieties; theatrical therapy at its funniest and a dynamic dose of musical medicine for the soul.
If any of that sounds familiar then you probably grew up in the sixties and you’ll love every second of this show. If it doesn’t, then it’s time you educated yourself and listened to some of the greatest songs of the century. There is currently no easier way to do that than to join five fabulous, all-singing, all-dancing comedic women “with the Midas touch” backed by a buoyant band in Shout! The Mod Musical.
Everything in the show is kept extremely simple, starting with the names of the female performers: Orange, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. If that is too difficult, you have only to look at their gorgeous colour-matched dresses. Despite just being part of a rainbow, the performers from LIPA create distinct characters whom we soon get to know and love, maybe because we’ve met their like before in the real world. As far as I’m aware, the man with the impeccable voice who you’ll hear from time to time is nameless but he too is part of the comedy. This just leaves agony aunt Gwendolyn Holmes, whose name you’ll hear so often you’ll remember it in years to come. She is played to perfection; a contrasting character who has much dry humour and a strait-laced outfit to match.
The plot presents no challenges either. The girls sit around reading copies of Shout! magazine. As they pour over the fashion articles, beauty treatments and the problems page, each section queues a discussion around their lives and a song or three. They read out their letters to Gwendolyn and she appears, rather like a fairy godmother, dispensing words of wisdom that generally lack the wisdom. It all makes for a great deal of fun from some hilarious lines.
Crowning it all is the music. Forming a rock-solid foundation and a huge part of the success of this show is the band: two keyboards and a drum set performing classic pop arrangements with stunning precision. The band are worth watching from time to time to see how clearly they love what they are doing; they have a passion that transmits through their energetic playing and out to the audience.
As for the performers, each one has a stunning voice, perfectly suited to the style of the era. Their clear diction in the dialogue and songs is a joy to hear, especially at a time when mumbling seems increasingly prevalent. They can belt out the big tunes but equally treat heart-wrenching lyrics with soft sensitivity. In solos their notes are spot on and together they create luscious harmonies with spine-tingling modulations. No pop show would be complete without without some daring dance routines and there are plenty of those to admire. Yet again these multi-talented ladies give it all they’ve got in some well-choreographed numbers. “You'll be dancing with 'em too before the night is over.”
“Believe me, believe me”, this is the ultimate antidote to all your anxieties; theatrical therapy at its funniest and a dynamic dose of musical medicine for the soul.