Spend, Spend, Spend

4 Stars

****

It  is not often that we at one4review get the chance to see Fringe previews, normally we are knee deep in planning and application forms, so it was a nice change for me to start off what is sure to be a very hectic three weeks with a pleasant evening watching the Why Not? Theatre Company present the musical Spend, Spend, Spend.

This musical, written by Steve Brown and Justin Greene, based on the book by Stephen Smith and Viv Nicholson, draws its title from the quote uttered by Ms Nicholson when asked what she would do with a major pools win back in 1961.

Set in Castleford Yorkshire, a town heavily dependant on the coal industry, I feel that there is a touch of ‘Blood Brothers’ in the way the narrator, Viv today reacts with her younger version as the story is told in flashback, with Viv aging from 16, through five husbands, several children,  poverty, vast riches, heartbreak, bankruptcy and the general message that money cannot buy happiness.

I have seen this musical once before many years ago, but had forgotten most of the songs and a good degree of the plot. Director Graeme Melvin has, as always, staged the show extremely well, especially given the confined acting space and together with choreographer Theresa Puddefoot manage to create an illusion of having acres of space with the movement and dancing flowing seamlessly throughout.

The cast of eleven, Aileen Baxter, Connor Cummings, Fiona Donald, Rebecca Dudgeon, Stephen Humpage, Hannah Lockwood, Matt Robertson, Diane Stewart and Oliver Watson play a variety of roles integral to the story line, with the major roles of second husband Keith, Adam Sawers and young Viv, Eleanor Gudgin playing their roles with style and stage presence and undoubted maturity for their years. Miss Gudgin was especially outstanding.

The musical numbers were generally well performed, an occasional slight tuning problem with a voice or two did jar a little, and there are relatively few show stopper numbers, but there was little to complain about even if this was a professional cast. But it wasn’t. Why Not? are a teenage group and at the snip of a price they are selling tickets for why not? give it a try.

Reviewed by Geoff

Spaces a@ Royal College of Surgeons Venue 53

6- 14th August

17-15 to 18-45

Fringe Brochure Page 218

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