Summer Holiday at The Churchill Theatre

Summer Holiday
Summer Holiday at The Churchill Theatre

Summer Holiday tells the story of a group of 4 bus mechanics on a European tour in a Red London Bus, picking up stranded hitchhikers and a stowaway singing star as they go, but I am sure most of you know that bit. The musical is based on the 1963 smash film featuring (Sir) Cliff Richard and in the mid 90’s a large scale stage version featuring Darren Day which was released on VHS (if like me you are old enough to remember what that is).
I have seen both the film and stage version of the show but have never seen it live before so having the chance to see a professional national tour was something I was excited to do so.

The success of the two well known versions puts a lot of pressure on the show to live up to expectations however with the star names of Ray Quinn in the lead role of Don alongside Bobby Crush in the role of Jerry, a bumbling talent agent, my hopes were high.

Summer Holiday

​The first thing I have to say about the show is “wow what a talented cast”, Quinn has clearly spent a lot of time not only with the choreographer but also studying Cliff’s little moves and mannerisms which slotted him into the role nicely and the cast seemed to breeze through a very dance heavy production. Despite a great performance from Quinn, who at times did seem a bit too posh to be working in an East London bus garage, the two stand out cast members for me were Bobby Crush, the part almost felt like it was written for him, and Rory Maguire playing Cyril, a part set in stone by sit com star Melvyn Hayes in the film.

Unfortunately this talented cast was in my opinion let down by the production very quickly. The quality of the sound was very poor and seriously lacked in mid range, this caused a lack of depth and making the vocals very “tinny” throughout and at some points early on vanished into the music completely. Secondly there seemed to be a big lack of set and scenery through the show (other than a big red bus on the stage of course). The opening at the bus garage, the Paris nightclub, an Alpine cafe and a wedding reception all felt very much the same location.

The Choreography whilst well performed by the cast did feel a bit too overdone in places as well as seeming to be a little heavy in the wrong style and fitting more into the style of the recent “LALA Land” than 1960’s Summer Holiday.

Staying on the production, I was a little confused by some of the ensemble characters, a couple of bellhops and sexy French maids seemed unneeded and the inclusion of a group of goats dancing Zorba’s dance might have fitted in a panto somewhere but really felt out of place in what is already a very light hearted musical not in need of a humours light relief.

​As a general round up, despite my general issues with the production with a soundtrack like this show has and the finale/encore medley it is almost impossible so go away at the end of probably one of the best ever general feel good musicals without a smile on your face singing songs from the show all the way home

Review by Andrew Parker

Summer Holiday is playing at the Churchill Theatre until the 9th June and it then continues onto Birmingham, Edinburgh and Wimbledon amongst other places. To find out more about the show visit their website. 

If you like this review you might also like my review of Beautiful tour, Thriller Live and Son of A Preacher Man. 

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