Flying the Union Jack
It’s baaaaack! Twist and Shout – The British Invasion has returned to Huron Country Playhouse after nine years. This show, conceived, created and directed by Drayton Entertainment’s Artistic Director Alex Mustakas, is a nostalgia trip. It premiered at the Playhouse in 2005 and later was on stage at London’s Grand Theatre in 2008. This is a show that returns, quite literally, by popular demand. It remains the flag-ship of Mustakas’ Legends series, which all followed its pattern.
Baby Boomers love to relive the sixties: This production, with costumes, dance moves, and all the music from Britain that influenced and entertained a generation, lets them do just that.
The audience gets the whole package—two big screen black and white TVs show commercials from the sixties and offer trivia about the songs being sung. Ted Simonett plays Roy Solomon, an Ed Sullivan type character, and even imitates old Ed. Nick Settimi is announcer / magician / singer / dancer and funny guy Sheldon Lubliner. Dance Captain Sarah Matton, along with dancers extraordinaire Lindsay Croxall, Alex Black and Nicholas Nesbitt, has high energy and amazing moves in this fast paced show. The foursome also does double duty as singers.
Duff MacDonald returns from the original cast and reprises his role as the drunken Donovon, singing Mellow Yellow, staggering through the audience to great laughter.
The show opens and closes with the Beatles, with Gerrad Everard, Duff MacDonald, Robert Markus, and Yvan Pedneault playing the four mop-tops. All four men have perfect voices, blending the harmonies flawlessly. Both Markus and Pedneault are well-experienced musical theatre rockers. Markus played the lead role of Tommy in The Who’s Tommy at Stratford Festival last year, while Pedneault was the star of both Mirvish’s rock musicals: Queen’s We Will Rock You and Rock of Ages.
Pedneault has an opportunity to really demonstrate his chops with The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun and Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, both showstoppers. Markus demonstrates his vocal talent as Herman in Herman’s Hermits, with the Zombies’ She’s Not There and others.
Valerie Stanois has a powerful voice singing Lulu’s To Sir With Love, Jennifer Kee shows her range with Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and later brings the house down with Son of a Preacher Man. Laura Mae Nason gives us an emotional rendition of Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Own Me.
Gerrad Everard gets the laughs as the pouty lipped Mick Jagger, singing the Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Woman and Satisfaction.
The hits are nearly endless – The Hollies’ Carrie Anne, Bus Stop, and He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, or Peter and Gordon’s A World Without Love. Also included is a salute to British musical theatre, with selections from Camelot, Oliver!, and My Fair Lady. There is even a James Bond set featuring Nick Settimi as Bond himself, followed by Jennifer Kee singing Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger.
The Beatles many hits return throughout the show, and the evening wraps up Twist and Shout, leading into a potent and energetic rendition of Lulu’s Shout featuring Kee.
It’s a feel-good show, fast moving, with great music and powerful voices. The five piece band under the direction of Michael Lerner keeps up the frenetic pace.
Kudos to Alex Mustakas for perfecting his creation, and finding an energetic young cast to keep the sixties alive.
Twist and Shout continues with eight shows a week until August 2 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com
Photo: Laura Mae Nason, Jennifer Kee, Valerie Stanois, Lindsay Croxall. Photo by Darlene O’Rourke.
Twist and Shout – The British Invasion 2014
Conceived, Written and Directed by Alex Mustakas
Musical direction by Michael Lerner
Choreographed by Gino Berti
Performed by Alex Black, Lindsay Croxall, Gerrad Everard, Jennifer Kee, Duff MacDonald, Robert Markus, Sarah Matton, Laura Mae Nason, Nicholas Nesbitt, Yvan Pedneault, Nick Settimi, Ted Simonett, Valerie Stanois.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
July 20 to August 2, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson