4-9 July 2016
Reviewed by Louise Watts
Last evening my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells to see “Save the Last Dance for Me” starring Antony Costa from boy band “Blue” and “X-Factor” finalist Lola Saunders.
Set in England in the early 1960’s during the Rock ‘n Roll era and featuring hits from Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, the story revolves around two sisters, Jennifer (Lola Saunders) and Marie (Elizabeth Carter) who embark on their first holiday away from their parents. Armed with advice from their mother about boys, they head off to a caravan in Lowestoft for the week. Whilst enjoying their independence and freedom, but struggling with the rain, they meet a handsome young US Air man Milton (Antony Costa) who invites them along to a dance at the air base. They accept his offer and attend the dance, opening their eyes to a whole new colourful and exciting world of love! Jennifer and Milton become close as do Marie and Curtis (Wayne Robinson). Will their mother be right in what she told them about boys or will true love prevail?
As an 80’s child, I wasn’t sure whether this show with hits from the 60’s would capture me or not. I had no reason to worry! From the minute the band started playing, opening with an instrumental medley of well-known hits they had my full attention. It was difficult not to start foot tapping before the show had even started! A medley of easy listening, happy, feel good songs and that was before any members of the cast had even entered the stage. As the show commenced the excitement continued… wonderful 60’s costumes and hair and some subtle but very funny jokes thrown in for good measure. The set was simple yet perfect and worked brilliantly. The band were based on stage and fully integrated into the show which was lovely to see as so often the band sit anonymously below stage and therefore do not always get the recognition they deserve.
If you were in any doubt about the talent and skill of the cast, this was assured during a couple of wonderful acapella moments.
Antony Costa was outstanding in the role as Milton as was Lola Saunders as Jennifer, but we must sing the praises of their co-stars Elizabeth Carter and Wayne Robinson also. All four lead roles were absolutely brilliant and a complete pleasure to watch!
It would be wrong to pay such compliment to the show without mentioning the theatre itself. Although in my opinion not the most attractive looking from the outside I was very pleasantly surprised once inside. It was clean, well equipped and staff were all polite and very approachable. Parking was easy with a multi storey next door and parking for the whole evening was only £1 (entry after 6pm). This was our first visit in a long time and we will most definitely be returning as we feel we have uncovered a hidden gem!
To conclude, this is an easy to watch musical about the trials and tribulations of growing up and experiencing love. It has a feel good factor in abundance and by the finale had everybody on their feet dancing and clapping. If you are looking for a heart-warming, vibrant show then this is for you! An absolute pleasure and I would thoroughly recommend it, but remember to save the last dance for me!
Tickets cost from £19.50 to £32.50 (booking fees may apply).
Save the Last Dance for Me is at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells until 9 July 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01892 530613.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613