THERE’S gold in nostalgia as one of the country’s top writng duos have discovered. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have been responsible for some of the biggest comedy hits on radio and TV over the past 35 years with the likes of Bird of a Feather, Shine On Harvey Moon, The New Statesman and Goodnight Sweetheart.
They moved onto the theatre and came up with the rock and roll story for the phenomenal jukebox musical, Dreamboats and Petticoats, one of the biggest grossing musicals of the decade that was spawned from a best-selling album.
Now they are back at The Waterside and Milton Keynes Theatre with their new musical, Save The Last Dance For Me, which moves the trip down memory lane to familiar territory for local theatre-goers.
It tells the story, backed by an incredible playlist from legendary songsmiths Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, of two young girls from Luton who chase fun and romance during a holiday to Suffolk. It’s a musical fairytale set in the 1960s with a storyline that dips into the race issue but largely serves up a feelgood homage to an era often seen through rose-tinted glasses.
“It’s nostalgia isn’t it?” said Laurence, a former local newspaper journalist, when we chatted this week. “Everyone loves looking back and thinks that the 1960s was wonderful. Of course it wasn’t as wonderful as everyone remembers - we lived through it! - but people gloss over the problems to recall the great music. The swinging 60s, after all, only took place in a small area of London.
“Outside of that there were kids like these girls who enjoyed caravan holidays and hoped to find love.
“The 1960s were an interesting time because it wasn’t long after World War Two and we were the first teenagers. Everything was new - fashions, morals, drugs.
“We have a story about a 17-year-old girl from Luton who falls in love with a black GI without realising that there would be repercussions.”
Maurice, his writing partner, who has been a friend almost since childhood, added: “We were looking to set the story in somewhere that could still reflect the rhythms of London without actually being in the capital.
“The cast are young and incredibly multi-talented. For many of them its their first time on stage but you wouldn’t know that.
“It’s a story about going on holiday to Lowestoft. I can’t imagine a worse place to go. It doesn’t stop raining, there’s nothing to do, even the fish and chip shop closes early. There’s no action except fishing - and then they meet a GI who takes them to the nearby US air force base where they have hamburgers and hotdogs and music by Elvis. Everything they see on TV is suddenly available to them.”
Save The Last Dance runs at The Waterside from February 13-18 (for tickets call the box office 0844 871 7607 or online www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury) or Milton Keynes Theatre from April 10-14 (box office 0844 871 7652 or online www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes