Jackie The Musical at The Alhambra Theatre
STOPPING on its UK tour, new musical Jackie brought a summery vibe to Bradford.
A rainbow-coloured magazine-shaped border frames a central live band playing Love Is In The Air.
In front of a neon pink-lighted backdrop, a young guitar player straddles the central stairs, singing What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted before a lone female diner takes over.
The titular character, Jackie (Janet Dibley), is humorously introduced by her best friend, Jill (Lori Haley Fox), before she finally clears out her house a year after her husband, John (Graham Bickley), has abandoned her and their teenage son, David (Michael Hamway), for a younger “horsey” model (Tricia Adele-Turner).
While cleaning out, she rediscovers a box of old Jackie magazines, causing her to reminisce. Rediscovering her youth prompts the appearance of a younger Jackie (Daisy Steere), representing the remnant of her inner child and encouraging her to seek love elsewhere.
Jackie’s quest for love is punctuated by well-known popular hits, such as I Love To Boogie, 20th Century Boy, It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song), Enough Is Enough and I Can See Clearly Now. All songs are accompanied by cheesy 70s dancers, choreographed by the legendary Arlene Phillips, including a particularly entertaining shrubbery park routine and a psychedelic horse riding song (Crazy Horses).
Vocal highs come from a father and son Love Hurts duet, an exceedingly camp wedding re-enactment and a particularly comical rendition of Puppy Love by Jackie’s regular barista, Frankie (Bob Harms). The ghost of Jackie’s younger self gives equally amusing dating advice in Jackie Magazine style, quoting personality tests and love quizzes.
There are Jackie Magazine links throughout, such as old editions appearing as props and adult Jackie remembering the letters she wrote to the featured agony aunts, Cathy and Claire. A multi-levelled set, glitterball and 70s tribute night act are the perfect excuse for fabulously flamboyant garish colours and patterns for the show’s backdrops and costumes.
Jackie suffers from overly-loud backing music and some rather manic rushed scenes, but is brave in its unexpected but strangely fitting plot veers. Some solos are weak but luscious duets and an overall feelgood vibe, that’s so contagious, make Jackie’s flaws easily forgivable.
Cheesy one-liners, schmaltzy teenage love declarations and speech bubble pop-ups add to its breezy retro vibe, culminating in an uplifting end, encouraging the audience to spin “like a top” and “dance until we drop”.
Perfect for girl power, hen dos, nostalgics and girlie nights out.