The Ambassador’s Theatre is one of the most intimate spaces I have ever been in, which makes perfect sense seeing that it is one of the smallest in the West End. Being mid-way up in the circle seating, I still felt incredibly close to the stage – I was able to see faces, expressions, and notice the little things I may have only seen in the stalls of a larger venue.
This closeness added to the connection between the stage and the seats, that was ideal for a show like this. Be Bop A Lula brings together four of the biggest names of the late 50’s and early 60’s rock and roll era for a show that guarantees to get the audience moving. The show focuses around Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Gene Vincent, and Roy Orbison and the hits that launched them to fame.
The show moved from one rocker to the next, playing hit after hit that kept the energy alive. There was a continuous shouting and singing heard throughout the house that began at the first note of each song. There was also a touching song of Cochran’s that gave a nod to the late Buddly Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson Jr.) included, as well as an extra special guest appearance through the night by one of the biggest, and wildest, stars of rock and roll, Jerry Lee Lewis.
Two actors, Gavin Stanley and Lars Young, take on the roles of the four legends, and it’s one of the greatest tributes I’ve seen. Their voices come as close to an exact replica as you could imagine – Stanleys’ performance of Halfway to Paradise, especially, sounded identical to what you’d hear if you were playing Fury’s original version.
Spencer Evoy keeps the show moving as the host, and is also featured throughout rocking on the saxophone. He fit the part of a 1950’s rocker from head to toe, kept the audience alive between numbers, and even threw in some impressive dancing.
The Wildcats, made up of Pete Pritchard, Gerry Slattery, Richard Blanchard and Phil Casey, were the band behind these guys that kept the place rocking. With members from the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, to having worked with groups such as The Everly Brothers and The Stray Cats, the talent is immeasurable.
With some of their greatest hits, Summertime Blues, Only The Lonely, and Twenty Flight Rock to name a few, it was hard to stay seated. The audience was bopping around clapping along to each hit, and once they were encouraged to get on their feet, the theatre was filled with shaking and swinging through the aisles until the curtain went down.
Reviewed by Caity O’Shaughnessy
The next Be Bop A Lula is on Wednesday 1 April 2015 at the Ambassadors Theatre. Click here to book tickets.