Theatre review: Summer Holiday/Lothian Youth Arts & Musicals Co; Church Hill Theatre

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It all hinges on the Swiss border. Heralding musical Summer Holiday’s dramatic first act finale, the destination is a vital turning point in the health of the production.

If the budding young group of chirpy singing holidaymakers can’t prove to the Swiss border guards that they’re a pop group, then they’ve got no chance of getting into the country from France and their mission to get to Athens is dashed.

Frankly, We Say Yeah is such a dreadful song that the Swiss should have locked up Cliff for crimes against humanity long before it ever reached the stage.

Getting away with it in amateur theatre is a tricky business, particularly when you have a large ensemble filling the stage leaving little room for large, perky, bouncy narrative movements.

Sadly, the teens of LYAMC miss their mark and should have, by all rights, been turned back to the bright lights of Paris and wonderfully wicked stage mom Stella’s evil clutches. Which is an injustice to the way in which the company rally admirably in Act Two, particularly with a beautifully performed pitch perfect a capella rendition of Living Doll.

While Act One was peppered with the general unease, missed cues and uneven choral harmonies that suggested a lack of rehearsal and serious first night nerves, Act Two regained ground considerably as the cast relaxed.

The High School Musical of its generation, Summer Holiday’s youthful exuberance is an excellent choice for LYAMC’s young cast, playing to many of their strengths and allowing them to showcase a variety of dance routines.

However, the impact of their funky Sixties physicality is diminished by very dark lighting throughout the story, and the use of black backdrops behind the bus somewhat undermine the sunny imagery of the story.

Leading the principal cast, Steve Wootton as Don and Clare McCreadie as Barbara set an appropriately fresh tone. A little more confidence from the pair and investment in their characters will really sell their performances.

Once the cast start focusing on having fun, rather than trying to remember their foot work, there’ll be rather more sunshine coming from the stage.

Rating: * *

Run ends Saturday.

Josie Balfour