26 November 2008

Darlington CSWY Review

A wonderful, just absolutely lovely review of Can't Smile Without You has landed on the web and it's something that should not be missed!

The One and Only one-hit wonder, Chesney Hawkes teams up with ‘reality’ rejects Siobhan Dillon (How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?) and Francesca Jackson (I’d Do Anything) to star in this contrived musical based around the songs of Barry Manilow.

Hawkes plays Tony Lowiman (notice the ‘witty anagram’), an aspiring young musician who is offered the chance to participate in a reality TV talent contest and become the next pop sensation. However, before he can realise his dream, he is caught up in a tragic sequence of events which leave him fighting for his life.

Francesca Jackson plays Lucy, his girlfriend who is, surreptitiously, romantically involved with his best friend and fellow band member, Scott (Edward Handoll). Siobhan Dillon is Mandy, the abrasive PA of Jeff (Howard Samuels), a smarmy TV executive.

Tony falls for Mandy but doesn’t want to hurt Lucy, Lucy wants Scott to reveal the truth about their affair to Tony, Jeff wants to make a star of Tony but not the rest of the band . . . it all gets rather complicated!

After a gig one evening, Tony is given a note from a fan which offers her name and telephone number. Without having even met the girl, he is accused by her boyfriend of attempting to steal her from him. This results in him being beaten up by the boyfriend and two other thugs in the most unconvincing fight scene in the history of musical theatre.

The plot is as thin as a size-zero supermodel and to say that the acting is wooden would be an insult to Pinocchio. The biggest fault lies with Tim Prager’s writing, which is banal and predictable at best and contains enough corn to keep the Jolly Green Giant supplied for the next decade. However, the cast do little to redeem themselves, too.

Although Chesney Hawkes has a decent enough singing voice his performance lacks the passion that is necessary to completely engage with his character. This could also be said of the two leading ladies. Both seem desperate to prove themselves as legitimate actresses and singers, rather than just reality show runners-up. Each tries to out-sing the other, particularly in the duet and trio numbers, until their pitch only becomes audible to dogs and dolphins. And Siobhan Dillon’s New York accent didn’t so much wander - it ran away.

Howard Samuels as Jeff was more camp than a row of pink tents as he flounced around the stage, gesticulating as though he had an itch in a place that he dared not to scratch.

The setting was basic, using little in the way of real scenery, although the dropcloth, which depicted a New York and London skyline, was used throughout, despite the fact that certain scenes were supposed to be taking place in New England, Monte Carlo, Saint Louis, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The addition of overhead signs to explain the scene setting added to the feeling that the audience was being presented with theatre-by-numbers.

The undoubted stars of the show were Manilow’s songs and Can’t Smile Without You includes more than thirty of them. Unfortunately, direction from Bill Kenwright and Keith Strachan and choreography by Carole Todd cannot do anything to save this lame bird. This is one turkey that even Bernard Matthews would have trouble off-loading.

Steve Burbridge.


Well as you can see I was obviously kidding, it is the worst review CSWY has had so far. But I'm not taking it seriously, it actually makes me laugh!

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