Reviewed for the Oxford Times, 20 November 2008
That’ll Be The Day is a high-speed romp through rock’n’roll history. Kicking off in 1954 with ‘Rock Around the Clock’, it zips without a pause through hits by Sir Cliff Richard, The Beatles, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Queen and others, ending with a triumphant medley of 70s number ones.
Clive Fishback’s vocal arrangement demands attention by keeping the songs short and blending them together. Skits and stand-up comedy break up the format and provide some breathing space for both audience and performers.
This show has survived in some form since 1987. That means there’s been plenty of time to polish and prune, and the result is slick and shiny indeed. It also means the target audience has reached a certain age, something the show acknowledges by delivering a shameless nostalgia trip.
Snappy costume changes take us through the good, the bad and the spangly of fashion since the 50s. Inspector Clouseau and Sergeant Bilko make appearances in comic routines. Finally, one particularly elaborate band reshuffle is accompanied by an elderly advertisement for Findus fish fingers.
Creator and star performer Trevor Payne channels Sir Cliff and Mick Jagger with ebullient precision. He looks wrong as Johnny Cash, but emulates the Man in Black’s voice and mannerisms accurately. Only Nikki Renee Hechavarria-Hume can match Payne’s flair for impersonations, delivering enthusiastic vocal facsimiles of Shirley Bassey and Diana Ross.
Performer and choreographer Julia Greenham is a less convincing Marilyn Monroe, but her dance routines are clearly well researched. Rebel Dean doesn’t have the moves to play a young Elvis, but makes an unexpectedly good Freddie Mercury; old, portly Elvis is played for laughs by Gary Anderson, who shines brightest in the comic interludes.
A quick scan of the headlines is enough to make anyone want to live in the past. That’ll Be The Day obliges, letting you temporarily forget your cares as you high-kick and toe-tap your way down Memory Lane.
Written by Trevor Payne
Crew includes Trevor Payne (director), Clive Fishback (vocal arrangement) and Julia Greenham (choreographer)
Cast includes Gary Anderson, Rebel Dean, Julia Greenham, Nikki Renee Hechavarria-Hume and Trevor Payne