In the last dance saloon

Save the Last Dance For Me
Save the Last Dance For Me
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BIRDS Of A Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart and Shine On Harvey Moon. Between them, Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks have been responsible for some of the best-loved TV shows of the past 30 years.

More recently, however, their work has been more likely to be staged than filmed, and after the phenomenal success of their first jukebox musical, Dreamboats And Petticoats, the pair are returning to the 1960s for the follow-up, Save The Last Dance For Me, which tours to the Edinburgh Playhouse next week.

As the title suggests, the piece features the songs of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.Set in 1963, the action centres around two teenage sisters.

It’s summer and for the first time they have been allowed to holiday without their parents. Full of freedom and high spirits they meet a handsome young American who invites them to a dance at the local US Air Force base, but young love and holiday romance is never as simple as it sounds.

“In a way, it is a continuation of Dreamboats And Petticoats because I live as much in the 1960s as I do in the Teenies,” admits Gran.

“1963 was a dramatic time. Living in the shadow of the nuclear bomb, our heroine falls in love with a guy from the US.

“Writing it, Laurence and I were very taken with the fact that in a sleepy corner of Norfolk you could be in America, with big cars and hamburgers, rock ‘n’ roll and jukeboxes – something that was exciting for those who went to the dances.”

Gran himself was too young to experience that first hand.

He laughs, “I was 13 years old, bunking off school a lot and obsessed with The Beatles.

“I remember running to school with this little paragraph I’d cut out of the Daily Express saying that From Me To You had gone from No 42 to No 1 in the US charts. No-one in my class would believe me.”

Bizarrely, The Beatles don’t feature in the musical.

“It was slightly strange writing a show set in 1963 and pretending The Beatles never happened. It’s a parallel universe sort of show, but it did bring back memories.

“Memories of becoming very aware of fashion and trying to be a Mod on 5/- a week pocket money. I remember getting sent home from school for wearing red socks and Hush Puppies although, really, they were Hush Puppy substitutes from Trueform.”

Being a Beatles fan meant Gran missed out on Pomus/Shuman hits first time around.

“Doing these shows has made me appreciate artists I hadn’t really appreciated before. As it’s a Pomus/ Shuman show there’s a lot of Elvis in it and I’ve become a bit of an Elvis fan. I never was before because, if you were a Beatles fan, you were not allowed to be an Elvis fan.”

He adds, “Dreamboats And Petticoats was such a great experience that when the producers offered us the chance to have another go, it was like saying, ‘I really enjoyed that fortnight in Lanzarote and now I’d like to go back’.”

Save The Last Dance For Me, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Monday-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £11-£28.50, 0844-871 3014