4 November 2008
Nottingham Says Yes!
Review: Can't Smile Without You, Theatre Royal
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
MAMMA Mia has a lot to answer for. Take a band's back catalogue, throw in a perfunctory story and stir. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't (Shang A Lang anyone?).
If you adopt the same thinking to Barry Manilow songs, just how far up the cheese-ometer will it go? Thankfully, not that far, because if you want a thoroughly escapist night out with some fine musicianship, top singing voices and a knowing glint in its eye, I urge you to beat a path to the Theatre Royal this week.
Can't Smile Without You, does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a night of pop tunesmith Manilow magic.
There may be a story about a singer meeting a girl on a his stag weekend in New York, falling in love, and coming back to Blighty, only to be injured in a fight in which he loses his memory.
But it's only a device to get us thinking about when the next hit will be played – and whether true love will find a way.
Chesney Hawkes takes the lead role of Tony Lowiman (crossword fans should be able to work that one out!) and he is more than ably accompanied by Francesca Jackson as fiancée Lucy and Siobhan Dillon as television executive PA Mandy (cue for a song perhaps?)
The band, under the musical direction of John Maher, are extremely tight, with some of the arrangements enhancing what Manilow has already given us.
The Theatre Royal audience for opening night lapped up this piece of musical theatre with many suggesting on the way out a return later in the week.
It's the next best thing to a concert by the man himself. What better endorsement do you need?