Pete n Keely

Pete n Keely

Pete n Keely is making its European Premier at the Tristan Bates Theatre at the moment and I attended press night on the 4th May. This show is set in 1968 and tells of America’s Sweethearts, Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens. They are performing live on TV for a reunion show. The issue is that they are now divorced and haven’t spoken in 5 years! The show is told through a mixture of songs to the ‘live TV audience’ and flashbacks to their time together. As the show progresses the tension rises and the songs become increasingly double edged.

Pete N Keely

Photos courtesy of The Other Richard

The show features just 2 actors, David Bardlsey as Pete and Katie Kerr as Keely. The both deliver their parts well however Pete has the quirks and tics of a 50’s/60’s crooner down to a ‘T’. They both have the spark to keep the audience interested individually although I struggled to find them believable as a (divorced) couple.

The premise of the show is clever however is gets tired pretty quickly. The plot is fairly predictable. The script struggles as on one hand it tries to paint a picture of how successful Pete ‘n’ Keely were in their heyday yet on the other hand the show relies on the couples downward spiral live on TV, something that doesn’t marry up well.

There is original music intertwined with more familiar numbers including ‘Fever’ and ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ however none of the songs really catch your attention and do little to show of the full power behind Katie Kerr’s voice. Both Kerr and Bartel however deal with all the music with apparent ease, a highlight being their solos numbers ‘Fever’ and ‘Black Coffee.’

Pete n KeelyMore attention to detail was also needed to costumes. There was a fantastic opportunity for Keely to be wearing clothes more reminiscent of the late 1960’s however not all of her costumes seemed to fit this criteria, or at least not obviously enough for a show that is supposed to be a parody. The set however was bright and colourful with nice touches such as the applause sign.

One thing I will say for Pete ‘n’ Keely was that it was fun, I wasn’t bored however neither was I riveted, challenged or awed in any way.

Find out more about Pete n Keely and what else is on at the Tristan Bates theatre here.

If you liked this review you may also like my review of Summer Nights in Space, Miss Nightingale and 42nd Street.

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