WITH Valentine’s Day still fresh in the mind, it was great timing for Droitwich’s Norbury Theatre to be playing host to the UK premiere of a musical about relationships which has taken America by storm.
The wonderful thing about seeing a new production is the anticipation but with that comes a certain level of expectation.
The Guide to Being Single is a great concept – a group of unlucky in love 20-something friends discover a book by an anonymous author which appears to have found the perfect formula for having fun (using a ‘no strings attached lifestyle’) without getting hurt.
It lists a number of rules, which include not revealing your name, not giving out your number and ‘don’t call, don’t text or worry about what’s next’.
But, just like Adam and Eve and countless other examples since then, human nature leads to a desire to break the rules.
This show had all the ingredients of a great musical – a talented cast of sound singers and able actors, along with the all important catchy tunes, an interesting storyline and a few twists along the way.
There was great chemistry between the characters, giving the impression that they had known each other for a long time and it was hard to pick out individuals because every person on the stage played their part.
Sarah Pavlovs, who was Jackie (as well as directing and choreographing the piece) and Louise Beadle as Heather demonstrated the best vocal ranges and the pair singing together in the second half was one of many highlights in the show. They both made the superb singing seem effortless.
Another highlight was the duet on ‘I Shouldn’t Have Done That’ between Jackie and the brilliant Robert Dearn as Derek. It was both humorous and the catchiest tune of the night.
A clever set enabled the action to flit almost seamlessly between bedroom, bar, restaurant and even taxi and screens at the front of the stage, as well as helping with the transitions, also displayed pages of the book the characters were living their lives by.
Starbuck also made good use of the front of house – which is always a pleasure to see. The displaying of some of the rules on the walls of the bar helped extend the ethos and atmosphere of the production beyond the auditorium.
The only criticism would be that some of the music, especially the brass-dominated pieces, was too loud, making it difficult to hear the vocals. That was especially problematic in the opening numbers where the scene was being set and the audience was finding its feet and working out what the show was about.
But that should not detract from a thoroughly enjoyable performance which saw a large percentage of the watching crowd on its feet at the end.
The Guide to Being Single is all about rules and while you are planning which rules you will be abiding by this weekend, it will be well worth writing one in about making sure you go and see this show.
The next performances of The Guide to Being Single are at the Norbury tonight (Friday) and tomorrow at 7.30pm.
Visit www.norburytheatre.co.uk for more.