Billed as "The Classic Story on Stage" that is exactly what you get; the film re-enacted. This is both a good and a bad thing.
The good thing is that it seems to be what the audience is expecting. They whoop and holler at the topless men, shout "Go Patrick" when he comes back to dance at the end (the actor was called Lewis and the character Johnny but the audience had the film firmly in their minds) and applaud loudly when we get the lift and the "nobody puts baby in a corner" line.
The bad thing is that, frankly, by slavishly following the film the show adds nothing to the story, characters or experience. This is now a stage show based on a film but the film on stage and as such it requires really, really hard work to make it work - and you can guess from the 2* review that it just didn't. When this tour was fresh, the last time it came to Bristol, I gave it 4* - there was chemistry and energy and a feeling of enthusiasm in cast and audience. This time it just felt a bit flat.
The singing is excellent and the dancing pretty good too but the direction and staging seems a bit tired and it just didn't come screaming over the footlights to bowl us over. Roseanna Frascona makes a very credible Baby and there were nice touches from some other cast members like Colin Charles but overall I saw effort but not commitment. This is also a show with a plot (all be it a little weak) and it is hard to carry it with "musical theatre" acting, to really make us care about freedom riders and the integrated holiday camp, backstreet abortions and class differentials needs more than just a nice voice and a pointed toe.
Sorry, this just didn't cut it for me though I could see that it suited large sections of the "outings" audience who just wanted some frivolous nostalgia with occasional glimpses of male torso ... you pays your money and takes your pick ....