REVIEW: RIP IT UP – THE 60s (Garrick Theatre) ★★
RIP IT UP have embarked on an ambitious plan to build on the success on the TV show Strictly Come Dancing and the recent trend of jukebox music shows. After Rip it up – the fifties, they have brought the sixties music to the West End for a four month stay and are already promising the seventies will follow. There is certainly an audience of Strictly fans and fans of the four headline stars, but to succeed in building a franchise, the production needs stronger singers, higher production values and to cut some of the cringe.
There is no denying the effort of all concerned in this show. The sixteen cast members and four piece band have to work very hard with the high energy up beat choreography of the show, which packs in many songs from the period – it’s exhausting just to watch! However only occasionally is the standard high enough to sustain our interest throughout the whole two and a half hour show.
The first half suffers from some dreadful green screen videos, recreating images from the 60’s, a rather unadventurous feel to the choreography and some truly awkward moments when the host tries to interview the stars after they have just performed a high energy routine which leaves them breathless. However the second half has more variation and some real highlights as the show finds a more distinctive voice.
The opening of Act 2, with a rendition of The Who’s My Generation, with Jay McGuiness (from The Wanted) on vocals and Harry Judd (from McFly) on drums gets it off to a good start . The Beatles psychedelic medley is excellent with large screen graphics enhancing the presentation and then there is a wonderful sequence of Strictly routines. We are reminded that none of the four stars had professional dance training before they appeared on that show.
While the audience reaction was slow to start with, perhaps not helped with a lack of familiarity of the younger members of the audience with the songs, like any Jukebox show, it eventually got the audience on its feet with the finale of each Act.
It is a fun night with great song selection and Strictly fans will adore the stars and their routines but without a strong linking narrative, a tighter execution and higher production values, I am not sure this is strong enough to sustain a four month West End run.
Reviewed by Nick Wayne
Photo: Fiona Whyte for The TCB Group
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