You Win Again – The Story of The Bee Gees at the Leicester Square Theatre, London before continuing a national tour until 20 April.
Star rating: one star ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
You Win Again – The story of The Bees Gees was premiered at Leicester Square Theatre in front of a celebrity audience and Bee Gees fans, ahead of the production embarking on its first ever national tour.
The show tells the story of ‘The Brothers Gibb’ through the eyes of their manager in what is described by promotional material as an all-new and spectacular musical experience. It features the brothers’ musical hits through the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The concert supposedly follows the band and their lives.
Many of the audience members, but not all, were thoroughly engrossed and there was plenty of dancing in the aisles. However, as a production, it fails on so many levels, and sadly this fault falls at the feet of the producers.
The biggest mistake is to have their manager, Robert Stigwood, narrate in-between numbers. The script is flimsy, leaves a lot of questions, is badly written and badly presented.
Stigwood himself had a chequered career, but he was a powerful and shrewd figure and would never have delivered such trite words in the way they are written for this show.
There is a little humour, but it would make for a much more interesting production if there were more detail and some interaction between the singers and narrator. Also annoying were voiceovers from the real Bee Gees – these just didn’t work and were sometimes was inaudible.
Supposedly Barry Gibb once said he wished they had used dancers in their live performances, so this show’s producers, Entertainers, have included six – big mistake. They might look better on a larger stage, but at the Leicester Square Theatre they were distracting and surplus to requirements.
Playing the Gibb brothers are Martin Spooner as Robin, Rowan Lyle as Barry and Yvan Silva as Maurice. All three are experienced musicians and singers, but dark glasses and costumes does not a Bee Gee make! Not one of them really captures the Gibb brothers’ vocal range.
Lyle does look like Barry, has sex appeal and vocally is the strongest singer, but doesn’t seem to have the top vocal range his character requires; Silva is in his element singing falsetto, but that means that Maurice features on lead vocals more (which true to the band’s actual dynamic).
Sadly, Spooner does not appear to have a falsetto chord in his repertoire. To be fair, all three work hard and the audience loved the many songs, but overall it was very disappointing.
The programme states there are ‘guest performers portraying some of the biggest singers in the business’ – there was one on opening night who portrayed Celine Dion and Diana Ross; ‘a pool of phenomenal actors playing Stigwood’ – there was one on this occasion – and he was not phenomenal.
Perhaps this means that throughout the long tour the roles are taken by other performers – however, it would be nice to see their names and those of the dancers in the programme, along with production credits, because for all its faults a lot of people work hard to make a show and should receive due credit.
The Bee Gees were iconic, their music beautiful and memorable, and their lives and careers make for an interesting story, but this show does not even touch the tip of the iceberg. The evening ends, as expected, with an encore of three songs – the last one, ‘Tragedy’, is sadly very appropriate.