Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My mother always said it was unlucky to open an umbrella indoors. Shout! The Mod Musical opens with five 1060s ‘dolly-birds’ twirling rainbow brollies through the air. Here – it certainly does NOT bring bad luck – quite the reverse, as this show kicks off at a gallop that sets the tone for the piece. The girls are identified simply by colour: blue, red, orange, yellow and green. All are avid readers of Shout! magazine and seek the advice of Gwendolyn Holmes, agony aunt in residence.
The dance moves, the outfits, the hair and the make-up are flawless – only excelled by the remarkable vocal performances of the five girls. Each has her own style: Blue Girl (Hayley Hampson) has a pure, clear voice and her cheeky Scouse character is perfect. Red Girl (Sarah Folwell) is a shyer, naive girl who blossoms throughout the show. Orange Girl (Emily Chesterton) is a feisty belter with a character to match. Evangeline Pickerill (Yellow Girl) has arrived in England to follow – well, stalk – Paul McCartney and Miriam O’Brien is the Green Girl – self-confessed ‘slut’. All are seeking their own happy ending.
The show moves through the 1960s with the subtext of women becoming more liberated, contrasted by the advice doled out by Gwendolyn Holmes (Katie Tyler). Advice to do with manicures and new hair-dos, alongside the repeated goal of becoming a loyal wife and devoted mother, becomes less and less relevant to the rainbow mod girls as the decade moves forward.
Stunning vocals matched by the live band celebrate the women who made the 60s swing: Cilla, Dusty, Petula, Shirley and, of course, Lulu, to name but a few. Brilliant musical direction, particularly in counterpoint numbers, shines brightly. One of my favourite sequences was the psychedelic phase leading into a new ‘take’ on 007. Excellent night out!