REVIEW: Summer Street, Waterloo East Theatre

The lively performances from the cast and the great concept behind this musical can’t hide the flaws in the script.

I have been told that as a child if I was upset the only thing that would soothe me was the theme tune to Home & Away – and to this day I’m still a bit of a fan of neighbours. So Summer Street was a show that was going to be right up my street.

However, despite being warmly received by my fellow audience members, to me it felt that this was a musical that was lacking in real character development and strong plot to make it completely engaging.

Summer Street sees four former soap stars reunite to try and reinvigorate their television careers by taking part in a live episode of Summer Street – but soon reality and soap merge, forcing each soap star to examine where their lives went wrong after leaving the soap. Of course like any soap there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Featuring a book, music and lyrics as well as being directed by Andrew Norris, there is no denying that this is a musical that is over the top entertainment – that spoofs Australian (or by larger extension UK) soaps well. But where it lacks is its dialogue between the soap stars as well as developing their characters effectively enough – particularly when references are made to the insecurities that each of them have to confront and could have been explored a bit more.

Where the show does succeed is in highlighting the way soaps overcomplicate plots to the point of ridiculousness and uses this to great effect. The trouble is it gets over excited to the point it can become wearisome in places, highlighted in the scene of the television special in which the characters are trying to carry out a rescue in a mine. It is a lively and energetic affair but the comedy feels too forced at times.

Meanwhile, there is potential in the music and lyrics with its 90’s vibe that is complimented well with Lauren Chinery’s playful choreography. While some songs such as ‘Take the Knife’ and ‘The First’ are in need of more work, numbers such as ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Lucky Plucky Me’ are quite amusing with their similarities to Kylie Minogue and Jason Donavan’s music.

There are likeable and lively performances from all of the cast, although it is Sarah Louise-Young and Julie Clare’s well grounded performances that really take centre stage throughout. Vocally, Sarah Louis-Young’s performance of ‘Chains Around My Heart’ that is a standout moment and really shows what the musical could potentially achieve.

It can be said that there is potential for this as a musical – but it is in need of some work with the script to really make it shine and standout.

By Emma Clarendon

Summer Street continues to play at the Waterloo East Theatre until the 2nd June.

Rating: ⭐⭐

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