Rollercoaster trio

Booze, Birds & Blackpool Rock
Booze, Birds & Blackpool Rock
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Booze, Birds and Blackpool Rock!, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

It’s strange to think of 1997 as being historical let alone hysterical and perhaps even stranger to think of Blackpool as the inspiration and launching pad for a “rock ‘n’ rollercoaster musical.”

Obviously this is not the first town to have been used as the backdrop for a piece of theatre but in the case of this new work by Anna-Lisa Maree and Andrew Irvine, the resort is pretty much thrust to the front an extra cast member rather than merely a backdrop for the storyline.

It’s 1997 – well, it is once the “present day prologue” is done with – and, lest we forget, Oasis are important, the Spice Girls are going global, the Battersbys have just arrived on Coronation Street, the Pleasure Beach Big One is still a novelty and the original Funnygirls on the Promenade end of Queen Street is changing the face of a Blackpool night out.

Taking place on one day/evening (October 3 in 1997) and with one set, three former school mates – Danny, Aaron and Mark – are meeting up for a rare night on the town. Danny’s just got rid of his electronic tag so there’s a reason to celebrate – even is he’s not sure why his mum has relocated to Blackpool, hasn’t a penny or a job to his name and is clearly more streetwise than bookish.

So far so good. But it’s a big ask to make the basis for a revue length work (which is what it started out as) into a full length musical (which is what it has evolved into) and it doesn’t always get away with it.

Partly that’s because at times it’s just too concerned with dishing out the 1997 facts and figures rather than just getting on with a story. And partly it’s because there’s basically not enough of that story to justify the running time – even given the well worn but still well received jokes.

The cast work hard – Scott Wright’s Danny has a certain baddish lad charisma, co-writer Andrew Irvine is enthusiastic as mum-pecked Aaron and Mark Harrington is convincing as girlfriend dominated Mark.

But it’s Carol Holt’s multi rolling as Danny’s mum and umpteen other characters which comes the nearest to stealing the limelight – and lion’s share of the applause.

Jamie Bramley completes the cast as transvestite Nathan, given little more than an extended cameo despite the character being so essential to the show’s theme.

Irvine’s musical score runs the gamut of influences, a bit of rock here, a bit of Rocky Horror there and whole lot of student style revue throughout.

Because of its dependence on local references it’s unlikely to travel well but it’s a spirited homage of sorts to the resort of 14 years ago.

n Nightly to September 3 (no shows Tuesday).

Robin Duke