Songs: “Saturday Night,” “Club a Go-Go,” “Waiting,” “Saturday Night Chat,” “Seventeen,” “Don’t Touch Me,” “The Boy of My Dreams,” “Greedy McCready,” “Twiggy,” “The Jacket Flap,” “What Do I Do Now?,” “If You Wanna Have Fun,” “Romance/Wham Bam,” “It Wouldn’t Be Saturday Night Without a Fight,” “I Gotta Dance,” “Please Don’t Tell Me,” “I’ll Dream of You,” “Sentimental Eyes,” “When We Kissed,” “Heartbreaker,” “You Gotta Do Your Livin’,” “Oh So Bad,” “Take a Second Look,” “Full of Yourself,” “Lies,” “Baby I Love You,” “P.E.,” “Who’d Be Seventeen,” “The Age of Fab.”
Unfailingly perky, and quite pleasing in spots, “Fab!” is a musical fluffball whose nostalgic focus has gone a tad fuzzy. Show was a long-running U.K. hit in smaller venues when it debuted in 1989 as “A Slice of Saturday Night.” New version’s Americanization hasn’t quite taken hold, resulting in a teenybopper backflip that splashes down somewhere mid-Atlantic.
Featherweight script isn’t much more than a series of line cues for 30-plus songs. During one long weekend night at “T-Bird” Thomas’ (Jock Rockenbach) Club a Go-Go, various girl-boy combos come together or come unglued. Sue frets over two-timing b.f. Gary; English exchange student Eddie tries to make good on a bet to seduce “Frigid Bridget”; shy kids Rick and Sharon work up the nerve to approach each other.
Collaborating on book, music and lyrics, the British Heather Brothers quartet aims to please on an unambitious level. A 1964 setting allows their tunes to cop equally from 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, soul, Mersey Beat and girl-group sounds, often borrowing motifs from hits like “Satisfaction,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Time of the Season.” Accompanied by the “club’s” live quartet, these songs are pleasant if undistinguished; more satirical bite would be welcome, from both the lyrics and Steve Dobbins’ production.
Latter delivers the energy if not quite the style required. A cartoonier directorial approach might improve blandly etched characters, and help erase the suspicion that this show made more flashback sense in its original incarnation. In ’64, U.S. teens were just beginning to favor the British Invasion, but the basement club location (rather drably designed by Gillian Daniell), swaggering sexual bluster and Day-Glo mod outfits of the production suggest the U.K.’s more precocious youth culture of the period.
The performers — some as young as 15 — seem to have been cast for vocal ability, which they deliver impressively. Personality and comic flair are less evident. Andrew Ableson’s overconfident hepcat Eddie has both; he also brings the most period-perfect attitude to Carolynne Geiger’s lively choreography, which mixes elements of jazz dance, twist, the frug and more.
Kirk Mills and Candace D. Jones are sweet ingenues, each doing well vocally by their lovelorn spotlights. The other juvenile players don’t have much to work with, or much individuality to add. Rockenbach’s weak voice underlines the awkward conceit of his quasi-emcee role, as well as the false final note of a gratuitous ballad about the ’60s in general (“The Age of Fab”) that was bumped just before opening to a post-curtain-call slot. Phil Lewis has a sleek soul-shouter presence, but his vaguely menacing landlord Greedy McCready seems to have drifted in from another show.
The whole fast-paced package goes down easily enough. But “Fab!” needs to decide whether it’s rooted in “Grease” or Liverpool.