Jackie The Musical

Jackie The Musical

Jackie The Musical officially opened in style last night at the Churchill Theatre with their press night. The musical is based on the magazine Jackie that was published from 1964 – 1993, selling in excess of 600,000 copies a week by the mid-1970’s. The musical focus on the adult that the Jackie girl in the 1970’s has now begun. The lead herself is named Jackie and is going through a mid-life crisis with a divorce, a grown up (on the outside if not on the inside) son and determined to meet someone new. Jackie however is faced with her younger self fresh from the 1970’s to provide her with guidance along the way with assistance from the pages of the magazine.

Jackie The Musical

Michael Hamway as David in Jackie The Musical

The music throughout is music from the 1970’s with highlights being ‘Crazy Horses’ ‘Puppy Love’ and ‘The Shoop Shoop Song.’ The band led by Dan De Cruz provided a great sound transporting us back to the 1970’s the moment the lights dimmed.

Vocally Michael Hamway playing David, Jackie’s son stole the show for me. He had great voice suited to the songs he was given and his big number in act 2 ‘20th Century Boy’ was one of the highlights of the show. Janet Dibley played Jackie well, she came across as a sympathetic character although unfortunately her singing voice let her down in places. Luckily with the amount of parts in the show she didn’t have a huge amount to sing. The rest of the parts were well cast with Lori Hayley Fox as Jackie’s friend Jill and Bob Harms as Frankie, the restaurant owner/barman had the comedic parts and delivered them well. I was also pleasantly surprised at Nicholas Bailey’s singing voice who played Max, Jackie’s new potential love interest.

The choreography by Arlene Phillips was perfect for the show. She used traditional 70’s moves combined with more modern dance in order to set the movement firmly in the 70’s yet to add a fresh new spin on it kept the more modern audience entertained. Despite this there was the odd bizarre moment such as the ensemble taking the meaning of ‘Crazy Horses’ quite literally or a dance spent moving shrubbery. The ensemble executed the dance well with them barely getting a moment to breath between the high energy numbers.

Janet Dibley as Jackie in Jackie the Musical. Photos by Pamela Raith Photography

Janet Dibley as Jackie in Jackie the Musical. Photos by Pamela Raith Photography

The set was simple and mainly constituted of a platform along the back and 2 sets of movable stairs which whilst it served it’s purpose and kept the flow of the show moving nicely it didn’t wow me and at times looked at bit cheap. There was some nice moments where we harked back to the magazine with speech and thought bubbles although from row B of the circle I found them difficult to read so I imagine that those at the back of the circle missed this entirely.

Deep and meaningful Jackie The Musical is not and the book by Mike James at times leaves a bit to be desired with trying to sandwich in references to the magazine or lead into the musical numbers however does this really matter…. I don’t think so. The show was at it’s strongest when it was poking fun at itself, something it did frequently such as when young Jackie gives her modern day self advice from the magazine and when it shows how much has changed with the likes of the mobile, laptop and facebook being a foreign idea to the Jackie of the 1970’s.

Jackie is one of those musicals where you have to take it at face value fun, frothy and a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those in the audience that spent their teenage years in the 1970’s with their head buried in a Jackie magazine.

Jackie is on at the Churchill Theatre until 26th March and then continues to tour to various theatres across the UK.

If you liked this review you might also like my reviews of Avenue Q and Let It Be, both at the Churchill Theatre.

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