A jukebox musical with songs from the seventies, inspired by a magazine for teengage girls and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. That’s all you need to know to decide whether you’ll want to see this or not.
The show opened in Dundee in March 2016, the editorial home of Jackie magazine at the peak of its popularity when it sold 600,000 copies a week, and is currently on a national tour.
Jackie is 54 with a 19 year old son and an ex husband who’s left her for a younger woman. She drowns her sorrows with her best friend in Frankie’s bar and tries to avoid attempts to find her a new man. Packing to move out of the family home, she comes across her collection of teenage magazines and her naiive teenage self is disappointed in what she’s become and intrigued by the future dating with mobile phones and the internet.
Jackie is played by Janet Dibley and her younger self by Daisy Steere, they make a good pairing and work well together. Dibley as the older woman, betrayed by her husband yet never playing for pity; Steere glowing with the energy and naive world view of a teenager who believes everything she reads in magazines, even that you can discern a man’s nature from the shape of his nose. Best friend Jill is played with enthusiasm by Lori Hayley Fox, completing the trio of strong female leads.
Graham Bickley (Joey Boswell from Bread) is Jackie’s ex husband John, tempted away by a younger woman and beginning to realise the error of his ways. Jackie’s new love interest Max is played by Nicholas Bailey, best known as Dr Trueman in Eastenders and an impressive singer. Michael Hamway plays lovesick teenage David, coming into his own with an energetic performance of ’20th Century Boy’ in act two. The stand out male performance was from Bob Harms as “metro-sexual barman” Frankie who risked stealing the show at some points as he sang and danced his way across the stage.
The show has a lavish set with rainbow lighting, disco balls and a live band on stage. The inspiration from the magazine is clear with the use of cartoon speech bubbles a reminder of the weekly photo-stories with the familiar ‘to be continued…’ at the end of act one.
A large cast of singers and dancers in fabulous 1970s costumes appear alongside the main characters and everyone seems to be having a wonderful time just as Arlene Phillips must have relished doing the choreography. It’s like two hours of seventies week on Strictly Come Dancing.
Jackie the Musical knows its target audience and plays to it; the men in the audience were few and far between and the women were having a great time singing, clapping and dancing along. This show is a fun night out; a nostalgic tribute to teenage love and what it can teach us in later life. If you remember the magazine, you’re in for a treat, and even if you don’t, you’ll still be entertained.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Pamela Raith Photography
Jackie continues it’s UK tour until 30th July 2016. www.jackiethemusical.com