Grand Theatre, Leeds ***
SOMETIMES no matter how much talent and creativity you put into a similar version of a highly successful show it never quite hits the same heights as its predecessor.
Save the Last Dance for Me is a new rock ‘n’ roll musical set in the early 60s based on heartbreak and young love from the writers of Dreamboats and Petticoats, but sadly it doesn’t have the same impact on its audience.
The story is told through the iconic music of Pumus and Shuman and follows the holiday romance of a teenager from Luton on holiday with her sister in Lowestoft in the summer of 1963, who meets a coloured GI stationed there and falls madly in love with him.
While the musical content recreates magnificently the vintage sound of rock ‘n’ roll hits such as Viva Las Vegas, And Then He Kissed Me, A Mess of Blues and Please Mr Postman, the plot at times is stifled by the music numbers resulting in the passion, emotion and intensity of its underpinning issues of sex and racism being lost.
As the sugary sweet 17-year- old Marie, Elizabeth Carter is both spirited and angelic with just the right amount of determination to get her man in the end. As the GI Curtis, Kieran McGinn excelled in the vocals but at times lacked the charisma needed to sweep a young girl off her feet.
Verity Jones as Marie’s elder sister brought some believable “girlie” comedy relief into the plot especially when she told Marie to “keep her hand on her halfpenny” much to the amusement of the youth of the 60s audience, while Lee Honey-Jones as Milton was convincing as the new-girl-every-night womaniser.
However, the night belongs to the multi-talented high energy ensemble who play, sing and dance their way through more than 30 numbers, including a show-stopping a cappella version of Sweets for My Sweet.
Although no one took up the invitation at the beginning of the show to dance in the aisles they did eventually throw caution to the wind and join in with the hits that make this show an evening of pure vintage nostalgia.
To April 13.