- Category: Art
© Words Val Weedon
As a teenager who lived through the sixties I was delighted to find out that a musical had been produced around this exciting era in my life and importantly, around the place I had worked for a key part of that time.
Carnaby Street, the musical, is mainly a story about a young musician from Liverpool called Jude, who finds fame and fortune in London, but then questions whether fame had been worth pushing aside the love for a woman he’d fallen for shortly after arriving in London and who was responsible for his big break in the first place. In the end Jude decides to reject fame for her love.
That’s essentially it, mixed with over 40 songs, using song titles to link together the storyline in place of a noticeable lack of dialogue. Which was a shame, and it felt the cast were not being used to their full potential as actors. I was expecting far more emphasis and focus on Carnaby Street and the fashion industry, although there were references to the shops and mod culture, this was done in the form of commentary rather than storyline. Historical events were outlined intermittently by an annoying newspaper seller who walked across the stage at regular intervals, occasionally attempting a joke, but punch lines were often missed as he speedily made his way from one side of the stage to his exit on the other.
It was an excellent casting, with some obvious talents trying to do their best with the tools they had. The lead role of Jude was played by Matthew Wycliffe, who’d previously appeared in the West End production Jersey Boys. Joining him on stage were two former soap stars, Verity Rushworth (Emmerdale), playing Jude’s Liverpool girlfriend and Aaron Sidwell (Eastenders), playing the part of Jack, (Jude and the rock band’s manager). Vocally the show belonged to Tricia Adele-Turner who played Jude’s rejected lover Jane. Superb singing voice throughout.
Not all the costumes were true to sixties fashion and for some reason the late fifties often get mixed up with the sixties in this respect. It is true there was a gradual change-over in hair and clothing during this period, but during the Mod explosion around 1964, where this musical is largely set, fashion was more defined. We were wearing bell-bottom style trousers, rather than skinny leggings. Plus hairstyles were short, spiky or bob style, rather than bouffant and back-combed. I know this musical is not based on a true story and is supposed to give a flavour of the time, but small details are nonetheless important.
Overall the audience seemed to delight in the production. For an afternoon matinee performance that I attended it was sparse, but it was warmly received, especially the uplifting conclusion with lead character Jack encouraging everyone to get up and dance along to the medley of songs “Do You Love Me?” “Bend Me, Shape Me”, “Mustang Sally”, “Sweets for my Sweet”, “Money” and “Roll Over Bethoven.” All performed for a very rousing ending.
The production runs until the end of June. www.carnabystreetthemusical.com