THE AUDIENCE at The Library of Birmingham Theatre was transported back to the swinging 60s by feelgood musical 3 Summers.
The show, penned by Bromsgrove’s Euan Rose with music written by Nigel Wright from Redditch, had everything a good musical should.
Catchy tunes, including ‘Summer of Dreams’, ‘Dirty Tiger’ and ‘How Do You Do’ were guaranteed to have still been stuck in the heads of those who went to see it as they left the theatre. And, among the humming, were murmurings of ‘that was different’.
And that is the biggest unique selling point of 3 Summers – no other musical has combined the big events of the 60s with four interesting stories of four characters trying to realise their ambitions and dreams, whilst showcasing the issues faced by those living in the the decade on a daily basis.
All four female characters – ‘the dreamers and the schemers’ – are perfectly portrayed by a talented cast and, most importable, are real and believable.
You feel sympathy for hapless Heff (Laura Meadowfield) trying to make it as a top chef and Princess, played by Alanna Boden, as she battles her demons whilst aspiring to be a top actress.
Socialite – the privileged and pretentious Pen (Ava Fay) – and feisty singer Maz are also lovable characters with traits the audience can relate to.
The chemistry and interaction between those on stage was impeccable and you could feel the audience willing them to succeed in their chosen goals.
But the star of the show was Richard Blackman as Freddie.
The narrative figure held the plot together as he told the story and went on the same roller-coaster ride as the audience as the characters’ predicaments unfolded.
Another great aspect was that as well as being responsible for their own situations, this musical highlighted issues facing the four because of the time – barriers which would not have been given a second glance in 2014 Britain, such as racism and homophobia.
The screen at the back of the stage was well-used to convey iconic images of the decade, especially at the end during the time of reflection when the pictures summarised all the main occurrences of the 1960s.
Broadcasts of Tony Blackburn on Radio Luxembourg at the start of each half also added to the ambiance of the piece and helped take the audience back in time.
Overall, 3 Summers does three things well – it tells four great stories, gives a flavour of what life in the 1960s was like and provides some escapism to a time where life was not as complicated, was a lot more care-free and where people seemed to have a lot more fun.