"Shout!" is an apt title for this jukebox revue, conveying as it does the ear-splitting, mind-numbing and otherwise fatiguing production style of what might have been a cute little show about the go-go spirit that swept through London in the swinging '60s. Show has a teeny-tiny musical soul, drawing on lightweight pop tunes that would be drowned out in a flash by one Beatles song.
“Shout!” is an apt title for this jukebox revue, conveying as it does the ear-splitting, mind-numbing and otherwise fatiguing production style of what might have been a cute little show about the go-go spirit that swept through London in the swinging ’60s. Garish musical slaps a hard-gloss finish onto every production element, from the giant lacquered flowers popping out from the set to the rocket-blast amplification of the over-miked voices. For all its shouting, show has a teeny-tiny musical soul, drawing on lightweight pop tunes that would be drowned out in a flash by one Beatles song.
With all due respect to Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, a steady diet of “Downtown,” “I Only Wanna Be With You” and other song samplings of their relentlessly upbeat style would put anyone off the vital decade when a youth-driven Britannia ruled the musical waves. (Not to mention the mod scene in film, fashion and groovy sex.) Say what you will about the technical skills of Burt Bacharach, even two songs in the same act are too much.
Phillip George and David Lowenstein have clearly gone to a lot of trouble finding songs that can tell the story of the decade through the eyes of five impressionable young women, color-coded in flashy costumes to each represent a basic type.
Instead of forcing five extremely talented performers into ill-fitting character roles and rigid vocal styles, however, the creatives might have been better off getting the rights to better material and trusting the singers to interpret it with some individuality.
Even forced to belt out their ditties in stylistic lockstep, Erin Crosby (Yellow Girl), Julie Dingman Evans (Orange Girl), Erica Schroeder (Green Girl), Marie-France Arcilla (Blue Girl), and Casey Clark (Red Girl) are dynamic performers who can bring down the house. The trouble is that they’re asked to bring it down over and over, with songs that all strive for the same level of emotional meltdown.
To be sure, the show has its moments. Crosby delivers a stirring “Son of a Preacher Man” that would convert a room of atheists. Schroeder shows devilish humor in her sexy Bond-girl takeoff on “Goldfinger.” And the recorded voice of Carole Shelley, as an advice columnist guiding these innocents through the rites of taking the pill and applying Mary Quant eye makeup, is a constantly droll delight.
But when you come right down to it, an entire anthology of Anthony Peter Hatch’s greatest hits was less a “Sign of the Times” than a single lyric line from John Lennon.