REVIEW: Save the Last Dance for Me, New Victoria Theatre

Taking audiences back to the 1960’s for some nostalgic fun, Save the Last Dance for Me is sweet and charming to watch. 

Save the Last Dance for Me band (c)Mark Yeoman.jpg
The band for Save the Last Dance for Me. (c)Mark Yeoman.

Filled with hits from the 1960’s, Save the Last Dance for Me is a surprisingly heartwarming story of two sisters on holiday in Lowestoft during the Summer of 1963. Here they meet a young American who invites them to a dance at the local U.S. Air force base, where before long they learn that love and holiday romances are never quite as straight forward as they seem.

In between the snippets of the (at times) awkward dialogue are plenty of songs that keep the audience entertained and certainly by the end up on their feet dancing. Excellently selected and performed by the outstanding cast and band, it is their interpretations of the classic songs which holds the attention of the audience rather than the story itself.

But this isn’t as much of a problem as you would think. Former X Factor finalist Lola Saunders delivers in terms of her performance of ‘First Taste of Love’ which is surprisingly heartfelt. But she also delivers in her portrayal of Jennifer the somewhat cynical older sister who wants to look out for her sister – delivering some brilliant lines in her conversation with her parents that showcase the changing attitudes in the 1960’s.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Carter as Marie is sweetly charming – but also clued up and a determined character who seems to blossom as the story goes on. Her performance of ‘A Teenager in Love’ was very enthusiastically received by the audience, showcasing her talent perfectly. Her chemistry with Wayne Robinson as Curtis is spot on in believability and endearing to watch. Robinson is certainly a talented vocalist, smoothly charming audiences in numbers such as ‘She’s Not You’  and ‘His Latest Flame’ and instantly delivers a charismatic performance from moment he steps on stage.

Antony Costa manages to balance the cockiness and arrogance of Milton into a character who underneath his womanising actually has a heart of gold. The scene in which he comforts Marie certainly shows how his character has developed from watching Marie and Curtis’s relationship blossom. Naturally, he is able to put his own unique style on the songs, capturing the energy and style perfectly.

But where the show is slightly disappointing is the set. The two locations are very different and need for imagination and creativity could have been great. Instead the clunkiness of the set made the production feel slightly amateurish – despite its clear practicality for the tour. The caravan in particular seemed pointless and the scenes in which it featured could have been set elsewhere.

Of course, the plot is really quite flimsy and lacking in substance but when the show makes up for that in the quality song selection then perhaps it doesn’t matter as much as it should.

However, there is a wonderful sense of humour in the show – such as when Marie and Curtis discuss the differences between American English and English, trying to understand each other is one such highlight. But the show also covers the topic of race at that time, watching Marie and Jennifer’s mother react to the fact her daughter was seeing a black person still feels oddly appropriate today sadly. While it could have been covered in a bit more detail, it added another layer to the production.

But ultimately, Save the Last Dance for Me is a lighthearted and entertaining show that by the end got people on their feet dancing and wins you over no matter what.

Save the Last Dance For Me is playing at the New Victoria Theatre Woking until 24th September. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets

Rating: ❤❤❤❤



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