Review: Carnaby Street at Milton Keynes Theatre

Carnaby Street cast
Carnaby Street cast

There is no doubt the ‘60s was the most vibrant decade of music in Britain and witnessed the birth of some of the most famous bands in history.

Written by former music agent Carl Leighton-Pope, Carnaby Street attempts to recreate the sounds, sights and fashions of the decade in which pop music was born.

The show tells the story of Jack, an ambitious band manager working in Carnaby Street, who discovers the music potential of Jude, a Liverpudlian who has moved down to London to see if he can hit the big-time.

An attention-stretching total of 40 songs are packed into the musical but with so many well-known ‘60s hits to chose from such as Mustang Sally, Sweets for My sweet, Keep On Running and Born To Be Wild it doesn’t feel too drawn out.

In the mold of Mamma Mia, some of the links to the start of a new song are cringingly obvious; ‘Oh look who’s that over there, is it the son of a preacher man?’

But the storyline does have enough action to keep the attention while the performers, in particular Tricia Adele-Turner and Aimie Atkinson, who play the parts of Jane and Penny, give their characters some emotional depth.

Aimie Atkinson has an outstanding voice which she showed off during a performance of Lulu’s shout which brought the audience to their feet at the end of the show.

A large part of the comedy in the show was provided by newspaper seller Al who regularly wandered across the stage and shouted out headline news from the ‘60s, often finished with a funny punchline.

Another highlight would be the emotional performance of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Mark Pearce, playing the part of Wild Thing, who found himself dumped from his own band; although many people who remembered the ‘60s may argue that a rocker would never have stayed so long in a Mod band in any case.

After watching Caranaby Street, the overall experience felt like a guilty pleasure.

The storyline may be more soap opera standard than film blockbuster but the toe-tappingly good music and general excellence from the cast of performers meant you walked away feeling uplifted and (if you are under the age of 50) slightly jealous of the people who lived through the ‘60s.

Carnaby Street the Musical runs until this Saturday (September 7). To book, call the box office on 08448 717652 or online at www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes