Well bless my beautiful hide -there is a future for the old classic musicals with modern audiences.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, which comes to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre next week, has been rebooted, revitalised and re-energised into a sizzling high octane show that caused chaos on its national press night.
I was invited to the show and had to fight through an excited crowd mobbing the entrance. Queues snaked around the New Wimbledon Theatre as fans of both the musical and its sexy new lead, former EastEnders’ star Sam Attwater, desperately tried to buy tickets.
The show eventually started 20 minutes late to accommodate those enthusiastic, ticketless, latecomers, but the delay was immediately forgiven when a buckskinned and bearded Attwater strode onto the stage and made whole sections of the stalls sigh with a palpable longing.
It got worse when his six brothers bounded on. Women were shuffling in their seats to get a better look - especially when they ripped open their shirts and later appeared (almost) butt naked. You’ve never seen six such beautifully honed torsos. Temperatures soared.
This is a steamy hot reworking of a story first aired “as a musical romp” in movie format 60 years ago and starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell.
Casting is, it appears, everything.
Attwater, at just 27, seems mature beyond his years thanks to a robust beard and a beefing up of his physique. He makes a commanding leading man with a powerful voice and an animal magnetism.
As Adam Pontipee he sweeps into town, spies a feisty wench called Milly, and tells her he’s going to marry her. The whole thing is done and dusted in an hour or two. His machismo is the stuff of women’s fantasies.
The whirlwind romance hits the buffers when he gets the fiercely independent Milly back to his lair, a filthy run down cabin in bear country, inhabited by six Neanderthal younger brothers.
But Milly is a civilising influence - until the remaining brothers decide that they want wives too.
There are some sensational set pieces that show the energy and athleticism of the “brothers” – Goin’ Courtin’ sets the pace and, when you don’t think it can get any better, the ensemble pull out all the stops for a showstopping showdown at the hoedown.
Social Dance is slickly choreographed by director Patti Colombo and pits the brothers’ remarkable dancing skills against those of the talented townsmen. Pip Hersee’s high kicks and Sam Stone’s somersaults, are a sight to see.
Jack Greaves as the youngest brother, Gideon, looks like a matinee idol of the 1950s and will melt hearts; Hersee, as Ephraim, and Jack Evans as his twin Daniel, appear to have matching six-packs; Ross Meagrow is the quietest brother, Benjamin while Sam Stones’ Frank has all the manners of Muppets’ Animal.
Helena Blackman came to prominence trying for the role of Sound of Music’s Maria in a TV reality programme. As Milly she’s swapped the Alps for the mountains of Oregon, and the Von Trapp family for seven strapping members of the Pontipee clan.
She’s a fearsome figure who is more than a match for the boys – oh, and did I mention? A helluva singer.
The remaining brides – Zoe Nicole Adkin, Lindsay McAllister, Georgina Parkinson, Marianne Phillips, Elisha Sherman and Carrie Willis – play their parts to perfection but are frequently mistaken for props to be thrown about in spectacular fashion by the muscular brothers.
Seven Brides is a wonderful night of fun. It runs at the Waterside from Monday, Oct 28 until November 2. For tickets call the box office 0844 8717607 or go online www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.