REVIEW: Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Opera House, Blackpool

Stephanie Webber and Shane Richie Jnr as Penny and Rik, with Emily Penny and Natalie Amanda Gray as Shazza and Amber, in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life at Blackpool Opera House. Pictures: Linda Lusardi
Stephanie Webber and Shane Richie Jnr as Penny and Rik, with Emily Penny and Natalie Amanda Gray as Shazza and Amber, in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life at Blackpool Opera House. Pictures: Linda Lusardi
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Remember the time you packed up your inhibitions and checked them in with your suitcase, leaving them in Blighty for collection on your return from sunnier skies?

Take a similar approach to Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, and you’re in for a belter of a party, celebrating 90s’ club culture.

Tam Ryan and Barry Bloxham, as Jose and Ebenezer, in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Tam Ryan and Barry Bloxham, as Jose and Ebenezer, in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

The new musical, its world premiere at the Opera House, makes it easy for you to take that holiday approach, as bright young things take the stage for their own high energy trip of a lifetime.

It follows 17-year-old Penny as she jets into Ibiza to rebuild bridges with her dad, DJ Ross - played by showbiz legend David Hasselhoff - who split from her mum three years before.

But in that time, they’ve changed; Penny’s grown up and Ross has moved on to younger model Mandy (Kim Tiddy), while struggling to keep up with the changing club business.

Penny, played in cute style by The Voice contestant and stage newcomer Stephanie Webber, is coming of age - falling for travel rep and wannabe DJ Rik (Shane Richie Jnr) almost instantly, and trying out all that the White Isle has to offer.

Stephanie Webber as Penny in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Stephanie Webber as Penny in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

That leads her down a dodgy route, and while the show gives something of a strong ‘just say no’ message on drugs, the drama and repercussions needed more to support this.

Writer and director Jon Conway’s programme claim to be King Of The Jukebox may be contestable based on this somewhat formulaic offering, although he did pretty much invent the musical genre with 1997’s Boogie Nights - coincidentally the show which sealed Shane Richie’s place in stage hearts, as his son Shane Jnr, who grew up in Blackpool, picks up the mantel this time.

He’s clearly got the same ‘cheeky chappie’ charm and once the nerves had settled he made a strong impression with solid and immensely likeable performance, which bodes well for a future career.

Another local, Poulton’s Tam Ryan brings humour, slapstick and juggling as Spanish bartender Jose, with more than a nod towards Fawlty Towers’ Manuel, although bad guy dealer Ebenezer, played by Barry Bloxham, needed more defined menace.

The cast of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

The cast of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

There’s excellent comic support from Shazza and Amber, Emily Penny and Natalie Amanda Gray, with super vocals throughout, especially in support for Stephanie and Kim’s Unbreak My Heart.

Obviously the star attraction, besides the pounding pop and dance soundtrack - with high octane and era-appropriate choreography by Chris Baldock, is The Hoff.

He’s clearly struggling with a knee injury, keeping his movements about the stage limited, and at times slowing the pace in general, but he maintains an irrestistable aura that comes with world-wide fame. And for fans of his Knightrider and Baywatch days, there are some random but amusing references.

The second half seems to lose the plot a little, not just in continuity - Penny’s pro-drugs stance after just one - bad - trip just didn’t make sense, but it also felt a bit rushed.

David Hasselhoff as Ross in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

David Hasselhoff as Ross in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

While some of the tracks were a bit out of kilter for the early 90s setting, who cares when a production is this much fun?

With a packed Opera House on it feets, smiling and dancing, come the traditional jukebox show singalong finale, it’s clear no one did.

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life is a great trip down Memory Lane for those of us who grew up spicing up our lives, pumping up the volume and riding on time of a Saturday Night.

* Until Sunday, November 1.