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17-07-2009

WE'LL MEET AGAIN

A bit of old time nostalgia captivated Terry Wills this week at the Alex in Birmingham.

Slipped in between two headline grabbing shows in the city, this proved a remarkable contrast in style and presentation.

And there couldn’t be any greater contrast between ‘Thriller’, depicting the career and songs of Michael Jackson, the smash hit ‘We Will Rock You’ and this show – “We'll meet again” .

It received an enthusiastic reception as it played the Alexandra Theatre for one day only.

 It’s aimed at those who fondly remember songs of the 1940s 50s and 60s and, as an added bonus, had been updated to include hits from the 1970s, courtesy of a tribute to the universally popular ‘Abba’.

Featuring three singers backed by musical group ‘The Golden Times’ the two hours entertainment allowed those of a certain age (!) to drift back and recall a selection of songs, tunes, moods, reminiscences, and jokes spanning four generations.

Initially set against a background of ‘As Time Goes By’ it opened with memories of Doris Day. ‘By the light of the Silvery Moon’ and ‘Que Sera Sera’ before moving on to songs from ‘My Fair Lady’- Oliver‘- and ‘The King and I’ Setting the scene for a willing audience to join in a ‘sing along of good old fashioned melodies.

Slow boat to China’ –‘If you were the only girl in the world’ –‘The Bells are ringing for me and my Girl’ and ‘Consider yourself’. Just a few that proved there’s no song like an old song.

The singers Neil Sands, (once a wrestler on TV ‘s World of Sport‘ where he regularly locked ‘horns’ with the likes of Jackie Pallo and ‘Giant Haystacks) Gemma Turner, and Lauren Atkins, each enjoyed individual spots while also combining with great aplomb when certain numbers were more appropriate.

Sands who bears more than a passing resemblance to Max Bygraves recounted memories of the life and times of Tommy Cooper in addition to singing and recalling songs from Tommy Steele, while Lauren Atkins made me realise just how time flies when singing songs from ‘West Side Story’ and ‘My Fair Lady’.

Marty Wilde and Cliff Richard couldn’t possibly be left out so more audience participation with ‘Living Doll’ and ‘A teenager in Love’.

1954 saw the age of what was then termed ‘Crazy Music’ with Bill Hayley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock’ taking the music world by storm, and as this era also spawned the career of a certain ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Elvis Presley, what better than a rendition of ‘The Wonder of You’?

Obviously in a virtual non- stop two hours of ‘good old fashioned’ entertainment it’s impossible to list every item of the performance - but in a faithful tribute to ‘Abba’ Gemma and Laurel naturally HAD to include  ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Thank you for the Music’.

Not surprisingly any show spanning four generations, including a 65th anniversary tribute to D Day, automatically meant, for me at least, a selection of songs that eventually earned the Forces Sweetheart, Vera Lynn, the honour of being awarded the title of Dame Vera Lynn.

‘Land of hope and Glory’-The White cliffs of Dover’ and naturally ‘Well Meet Again’. Waving of Union Jacks from the trio and an audience joining in with arm waving to confirm they’d enjoyed a splendid afternoons entertainment. 

This is the third year that ‘We'll meet again ’ has been touring the UK and for me there’s little doubt that it will be back in the City next year to rekindle fond memories of days, artists, and songs gone by.

If so I’d be very surprised if anyone who decides to see a fourth production leaves with anything other than a ‘spring in their step’ humming and singing to themselves memories of songs that for them couldn’t possibly be forgotten.

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