There’s something rather endearing about those old British films, where boy meets girl, they sing a song, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Summer Holiday, currently at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, perfectly recaptures those days.
The 1963 film with the big red bus was originally a vehicle for Cliff Richard, and this stage adaptation very much captures the spirit of that era.
The story’s simple – four London lads do up an old bus with the aim of starting their own travel company, and take it for a drive. In France, they meet a group of stranded girls (who happen to be in a band), and further on, encounter another singer, young American Barbara, on the run from her tyrannical mother.
The cast is lead by Ray Quinn as Don – in recent times, he’s seemed to be a gratuitous fixture on reality television, with shows like The X Factor and Dancing on Ice – but here, he’s allowed to show the full extent of his talents.
There’s plenty of laughs to be had, especially during the shower scene where Don – with Barbara posing as on the run boy Bobby – dries off after the shower, and Quinn gets some subtle comedy as he flexes his pecs – and that certainly went down well with the audience!
Having started as a child actor in Brookside, his Scouse accent has disappeared, and has found that old school received pronunciation, taking you right back to the 60s. As Don, originally Cliff’s part, he’s flawless – he dances, he sings, he acts, and is every inch the leading man.
The supporting cast are top-notch too. There’s a rising star in Joe Goldie as Edwin, who perfectly captures the spirit of those old school British twit characters. His scenes of having to mime are genuinely hilarious. He definitely had a foppish element to him, which was very endearing.
There’s some great touches too – I didn’t think the skiing scenes would be brought to life as effortlessly as they were, and were surprisingly simple, but clever. Full marks there to the choreographer.
Talking of which, the movement on stage was fabulous, from Barbara’s uncomfortable TV rehearsal, to the constant movement throughout with some fantastic dance routines.
And so to the songs. From start to finish, it’s a fantastic sixties songbook, from the early days of rock and roll. The anthems you’d expect to be there most certainly are – Summer Holiday, The Young Ones and Batchelor Boy – and plenty more besides. And they’re sung brilliantly by the young cast.
The fact that the woman sitting next to me was singing along from start to finish shows it’s got a high degree of likeability.
The iconic image of the film is, of course, the double decker bus. It’s there on stage, and moves around with ease, as the cast perform onboard. It had me wondering just how it was done as it span around on the spot. There’s still some magic in the theatre.
Summer Holiday is fun, no questions about it. There’s almost a degree of heightened reality to it, due to the period setting and the RP, but go with the flow. We’ve seen it in the movies, and it’s well worth catching on stage.
Summer Holiday is at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow until Saturday, November 3.
Click HERE for ticket details.