BLINK AGAIN: TURN ON THE LIGHTS
Flops get perked up in this high octane camp revue
When the New York transfer of Carrie: The Musical closed after just five performances it immediately passed into Broadway legend. Bootlegs of the original production passed from hand to sweaty hand and ended up on YouTube. Audiences, it would seem, love a flop as much as a hit.
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Some of the musicals showcased in Peter Bull and Tim McArthur’s third instalment of their revue Blink Again met a similar fate to Carrie (‘Grief Never Goes Old’ from Wilde saw only one performance). Others, such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Drowsy Chaperone (both seen in the West End) looked good on paper but failed to bring in the crowds.
A cast of seven bright eyed West End Wendies take us on a whistle stop tour of the flops bridged with anecdotes and facts about the several fates of the shows. Some are sung straight out, spotlight and all, and others are given the ‘Forbidden Broadway’ treatment – pastiche choreography and bad wigs galore. The opening of Act 2, which takes in Norwegian Goth-fest Which Witch and the inexplicably brilliant Dance of the Vampires (complete with Halloween hats, wild choreography and plastic vampire teeth), had the audience in stitches.
Other sections are less successful - a running joke about current flop-in-waiting Spiderman: Turn off the Dark never really takes off and the straight faced performance of some of the more awful songs adds to the squirm factor. That said, stand out performances from Jamie Lee (belting out a sexy ‘I Want to go to Hollywood’ from Grand Hotel) and Peter Navickas (with a moving performance of ‘It’s Only Love’ from Metropolis) balance the sincere and the knowing with assured vocal pipes.
This highly successful series will no doubt be back – the cast perform with gusto, versatility, and, most importantly, their tongues firmly in cheek. Where else could you hear a gobbledegook drinking song from Lord of the Rings (performed by a cast on their knees) side by side with the title track from 9-To-5? The audience, mostly made up of musical theatre aficionados, were laughing, singing and groaning along.
Luckily, Carrie is about to be seen in New York again. Perhaps some of the other shows here deserve a second chance (to paraphrase a more successful musical hit) to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again.
Until 2 July, Above The Stag Theatre, 15 Bressenden Place, London. Details at their website.
Reviewed by Dan Usztan
Photo: Derek Drescher