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A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!


BLINK! Again




Left to right: Heather Scott-Martin, Emily Spicer, Jamie Lee,  Millie Dunne

Photo credit – Derek Drescher


Devised by Peter Bull and Tim McArthur

Directed and choreographed by Tim McArthur


Above the Stag Theatre


7 June – 2 July 2011



Blink! Again….Turn on the Lights in its third re-incarnation is a winning formula. Creators Peter Bull and Tim McArthur extract from lost or beyond redemption musicals, a wholesome slice of musical mash up which sets the toes tapping all the way to 42nd Street.

Everyone in a musical wants the chance to be somebody - this is its universal appeal. So, we listen and we yearn in I’ll Be There from ‘The Pirate Queen’ or in ‘Grief Never Grows Old, from the musical ’Oscar’. And in these moments, it matters not whether the musical was a success or not, as the singing is just sublime.

The overall feel of Blink! is a classy, timeless, revue-style cabaret, rather than theatre show. It is fast-moving and sophisticated. In fact everything serves this concentrated theatrical simplicity: the staging is compact, choreography tight, and the costumes, designed by Nina Morley, use just enough embellishment as the need arises, such as in the star-motif in ‘Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens’ to pinpoint location or mood. All production elements are whipped into shape by the taut musical direction of Huw Evans.

There are some striking contrasts, the rustic ‘Cat and the Moon’ from Lord of the Rings or as one critic would have it, ‘bored of the rings,’ with the delicate China Doll, sung by Jamie Lee, from ‘Marguerite’ or the calypso rhythm of ‘Under the Sea from’ The Little Mermaid, to the heart-stopping ballad If’ it’s Only Love’, sung by Peter Navickas from Metropolis.

The company numbers were universally strong, with excellent harmonies from the opening ‘There You Are’ from The Mystery of Edwin Drood or the spikey Batboy to the dreamy ‘I Will Wait for You’ from the Gallic-inspired Umbrellas of Cherbourg, all Gauloises cigarettes, Grace Kelly headscarves and sunspecs. The company’s range and versatility is a rich seam.

There are so many fabulous musical moments in this production to enjoy: the duet between Heather Scott-Martin and Peter Navickas, in ‘I’ll Always Remember the Song’ from Romance Romance, named twice as it features two stories, with its harmonised, improvised lyric and musical motif. Millie Dunne singing ‘Coloured Lights’ from the 1988 musical The Rink by Kander & Ebb, ‘Love Chant’ from the Opera-musical Which Witch, the storyline of which is derived from the witch finder’s manual Malleus Meleficarum, written in 1486 - nothing else needs to be said. To ‘Three-bedroomed House’ from Batboy with Millie Dunne and Heather Scott-Martin,’ Moby Dick’, in a whale of a tail, through to ‘As We Stumble Along’….’Lilly’s Eyes’…In fact let’s cut to the chase - it’s all good.

You learn a good deal too. ‘Spiderman’, the musical, is still previewing and has been since last November, in Blink! the comic hero gets four bites at the cherry. Dance of the Vampires, which opened on Broadway 9 December 2002, featuring Michael Crawford, closed on 25 January 2003, and is one of the costliest failures in Broadway history at around $12 million dollars. Ouch!

So you get the idea. As long as there are musical aspirations to try out, human frailty to overcome or dreams of Broadway or the West End to reach, Blink Again! and its progeny will spawn and spawn, and spawn. The producers have coined a new musical category, Blink-worthy. It’s a kind of, or should that be kinder, re-cycling, a chance to save the baby and ditch the bathwater. So go along, have a treat. ‘Dredging the barrel has never been so much fun!’…..

Above the Stag Theatre
15 Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DD
Tue to Sat at 7.30pm; Sun at 6pm
£12 from 7 to 12 June; £14 from 14 June to 2 July
Box Office: 020 8932 4747

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