Jackie The Musical

Mike James
The Gardyne Theatre, Arden Entertainment and Sally Wood, supported by DC Thomson
Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Double spread: Jackie (Janet Dibley) meets Jackie (Daisy Steere) in Jackie The Musical Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

If video killed the radio star then the digital age probably sealed the fate of Jackie the teen magazine.

Abiding memories of its heyday are clearly imprinted on several generations of women however and this lively, lightweight and ultimately lovable musical plays directly to that audience, besides having enough energy to please many more theatregoers.

It’s a jukebox show, like so many others that borrow their songs from the latter half of the 20th century, but with a neat storyline by Mike James rooted in the magazine’s 1970s and '80s prime, and contrasting just how much has changed in the ensuing 40 years.

Modern-day Jackie (Janet Dibley) is a 50-something divorcee who falls back on her stash of Jackie magazines to help her navigate the middle-aged minefield of the dating game. She’s shadowed in this odyssey by her younger self (Daisy Steere).

While also self-medicating on prosecco and sticky toffee pudding (which draws knowing recognition from too many in the audience!) she also has to cope with a love-struck dropout son (Michael Hamway), her ‘ex’ (Graham Bickley) and her first date in some time (Nicholas Bailey).

So you could pretty well plot the chosen songs yourself—from "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted", to "Love Is In The Air". In between though are more rousing nods to teen pin-ups Donny Osmond or Marc Bolan. The Streisand/Summer anthem "Enough Is Enough" ought really to have ended the show. The tacked-on epilogue proves that, like sticky toffee pudding, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.

The whole production is framed by a magazine design that is also coloured-in and costumed in authentic style. The dancing and choreography, marshalled by no less than Arlene Phillips, is splendid. Bob Harms, as Frankie the waiter, ensures no-one will forget his setpiece numbers in a hurry.

The sound mix could strip your David Cassidy posters off the bedroom wall but in fairness the singing standard here is only a small part of the formula, and this is a show that gets its chemical reaction just right.

Reviewer: David Upton

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