“Save the last dance for me” tells the story of sisters Jennifer and Marie, who find themselves on holiday in Lowestoft without parental supervision during the swinging sixties. Much to their delight the rainy break takes a turn for the better when they are invited to a dance…and the location happens to be home to 2000 members of the US Air Force. What follows is a tale of love, disappointment and more music than a Saturday night watching X Factor (take that as you will). Lola Saunders (Jennifer) and Elizabeth Carter (Marie) have great chemistry from the start, and are very plausible siblings. I loved how the innocent overtone is broken up with a sprinkling of rather cheeky one liners, perfectly timed. I was quite surprised at quite how risque a few were…which made me love the performance even more! Anthony Costa (Milton) was a very likeable middle man, and I must admit I had anticipated him being the main character! It was great to see him showing such a different side of his talent, the theatre certainly suits him.
Now, I’ve held off as long as I can, but I have to talk about Wayne Robinson (Curtis). As the show went on I found myself becoming more and more fond of him…after all what’s not to love about a guy in uniform who can sing, dance and schmooze?? He really did make me feel like a teenager in love, and as my companion will tell you I was rather overwhelmed by the sight of his arms in act 2!!! Elizabeth Carter cannot be commended enough for her beautiful portrayal of their love… I felt every skipped heartbeat, every crushing heartache and shared every silly grin. I also have to mention Anna Campkin (Doris) as she was my second favourite thing about the whole show (arms are first..sorry), her dry humour and Leeds accent absolutely made my night. The rest of the cast were also equally talented, in a toe tapping laugh out loud way that left me buzzing as I walked to my car at the end of the evening.
The set was excellent, and the attention to detail really gave the show an extra level of credibility. Most of the action was set in the Air Force Base, and I loved the integration of the band and dance floor. From the posters on the walls to the cones of fish and chips, everything was thought of. The songs were fantastic and the ladies behind me were singing away in delight!! It was wonderful that some songs were acappella and others had a full band in accompaniment, the vocals truly were magnificent. As someone from a very musical family I felt right at home, and wished my Grandpa was still alive to share in such a brilliant evening. There were one or two songs that I felt were slightly drowned out by the instruments (such as the one Carlo and Jennifer sang) but that really is as far as my criticism stretches.
“Save the last dance for me” is a fun filled night for an audience of any ages, with something that will please everyone. The choreography and vocals were spot on, and the story line was exciting and varied. I particularly liked the fact that the writers weren’t afraid to address the race inequality issues felt so strongly during that time period, without it spoiling the overall light-hearted atmosphere. The performance really suited my mood tonight, and I found myself wishing I was there at the Air Base dancing the night away. My only complaint is I’m slightly heart broken at having to leave Curtis behind in the arms of Marie…