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A feel-good evening of classic hits

Carl Leighton-Pope with the cast of Carnaby Street The Musical
Carl Leighton-Pope with the cast of Carnaby Street The Musical

Carnaby Street

Assembly Halls Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

The latest phenomenon in musical theatre is the jukebox musical, which uses previously released popular songs as its musical score.

Recent hits have included Mamma Mia! featuring the songs of Abba, We Will Rock You using the Queen back catalogue and Dreamboats and Petticoats, drawing on the charts of the 1950s.

Now the fantastic music of the Swinging Sixties has been brought to the stage in new musical Carnaby Street.

It tells the story of singer/songwriter Jude, who travels from Liverpool to London with best friend Penny Lane, in search of fame and of fortune, and features more than 30 classic 1960s hits, along with six original songs.

The young cast are full of energy, tackling the numerous well-known musical numbers with gusto.

Notable performances include Aaron Sidwell as cheeky Cockney chappie Jack, a wheeler-dealer who manages to secure a record deal for Jude, and former Emmerdale star Verity Rushworth as Penny Lane, who demonstrates her vocal ability with challenging songs such as Lulu's Shout.

Gregory Clarke also shines as newspaper vendor Al, who injects some comedy into the production as he wanders across the stage offering an ascerbic comment on proceedings, or shouting headlines from the papers of the period.

Even the chorus members are multi-talented, with Lilly Howard, Cici Howells and Katie Pritchard not only singing, acting and dancing, but frequently grabbing saxophones and trumpets to perform with the band.

But star of the show is undoubtedly Paul Hazel as the camp cross-dressing boutique owner Lilly. Dressed in an array of outrageous costumes, with one notable ensemble featuring purple platforms, yellow skintight trousers and a white baker boy hat, his singing and dancing is impeccable, and it is impossible to take your eyes off him.

The evening finished with the entire audience out of their seats, ranging in age from eight to 80, dancing and singing along as the cast performed hit after hit.

If you are after a feel-good evening at the theatre, there is no better destination than Carnaby Street.

Carnaby Street will be at Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Halls Theatre until Saturday, May 18. Tickets from £19.50. Call 01892 530613.

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