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Summer Holiday Sunshine
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Stage musicals inspired by famous films are a double-edged sword.

On the one hand audience members invariably expect to see a version of the original leading man – Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain for instance – or, in the case of last night’s Summer Holiday, Cliff Richard.

However, this expectation can also lead to unfair comparisons and let downs and, whilst I rate Ray Quinn highly as a song and dance man, I became increasingly irritated by his characterisation of Don – the part made famous by Cliff – as he populated every sentence with an annoying, nervous laugh.

This was the ultimate feelgood musical and I have little complaint about the overall, joyous production – but was this Quinn’s, or the director’s, attempt to emulate the original British Elvis? He didn’t need to because as an actor and dancer he is superbly talented and, last night, was no exception for much of his performance was excellent, I just didn’t like his characterisation.

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Nevertheless Michael Gyngell and Mark Haddigan’s stage adaptation was as bright and breezy as the current Indian summer, with lots of foot-tapping standards like The Young Ones – I kept waiting for punk rocker Vyvyan to walk on stage! – Living Doll and Summer Holiday.

It embraced a certain innocence and eccentricity from the early 60’s when teenagers had not yet fully discovered themselves, nor innocence given way to cynicism, knowingness, sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

The storyline is straight out of a kiss ‘n’ tell story book. Don’s a London bus mechanic who convinces three of his workmates to embark on a road trip across Europe in a double-decker bus. On the way to Athens, they pick up a trio of stranded girls and a runaway female singer masquerading as a boy, pursued by her overbearing American showbiz mum. It’s a fun, action-packed journey well documented in the original movie.

At best Summer Holiday is a twee teenage love story, but no less so than the equally popular Mamma Mia, and it is no surprise that the auditorium was heavily biased towards females

It is fun, easy to watch and full of songs you will recognise and, for that reason alone, is worth a watch because it will allow you to continue your Summer Holiday as the British climate strains to return us to the tried and tested norm of cloud and grey skies!

Summer Holiday
Leeds Grand
Until Saturday

Summer Holiday Sunshine, 1st August 2018, 15:43 PM