REVIEW: Jackie the Musical @ The Opera House, Manchester
I have to admit, an evening celebrating a teenage girls’ magazine which was big in the 60s and 70s was not something that greatly appealed to me and I feared a ropey time ahead at the theatre last night.
My fears were reinforced after a cursory glance at an Opera House audience consisting mainly of women of a certain age with an obvious affectionate and nostalgic connection with the Jackie phenomenon.
I was a youngster in the 70s and sometimes saw the magazine when I picked up my copy of Look In from the newsagent – but that is as far as my knowledge went. I didn’t even have a big sister to grab a peek at her copy, so “The Jackie Guide to Kissing” and “Teenscope” was a blissful mystery to me.
It didn’t bode well, surely, as I took my seat. But I can honestly say Jackie the Musical is up there with the best shows I’ve seen at the Opera House and as a story essentially about relationships, I discovered this can appeal to blokes of a certain age as well.
But the most important thing about the show is that it is great fun, with oodles of that fab and groovy retro energy. Every one of those classic tunes is a show-stopper thanks to a combination of incredible performances, slick direction and near-perfect choreography.
The show tells the story of Jackie, brilliantly played by Janet Dibley, a 54-year-old separated woman confronted by the problems posed by three men in her life – her ex-husband, grown-up son and new potential love interest. Help comes from the projection of her younger teenage self, dispensing advice straight from the pages of the all-knowing magazine.
An exceptionally strong cast makes this truly a night to remember and the show is a triumph for director Anna Linstrum. The production makes the most of every line and every note – from the big numbers to the seamless scene changes delivering quirky little stories of their own.
And the show certainly demonstrates why dance veteran Arlene Phillips is still regarded as one of the country’s top choreographers.
This is well worth a look, if you fancy a good night out.
Runs till Saturday May 21