This new musical, which is based on the 1986 film of the same name, is a 60s American nostalgic trip that is only mildly entertaining and is somewhat a ‘seen it all before’ musical. It has a couple of good songs, a thin storyline and a happy ending. It is very American. It is not boring, it is not bad, but it is disappointing in that it has no originality, nor is it challenging. And the half filled theatre suggests that the show does not appeal to most theatregoers and thus is unlikely to have a long run.
The year is 1985, and 42 year-old Peggy Sue is attending the 25th Graduation reunion and reflecting on how bad her life has become, particularly as she is in the middle of a divorce from her unfaithful husband. While at the reunion she faints and when she reawakens she finds herself back in 1960. Her soon to be ex-husband is now her boyfriend and all her friends are young again, but only Peggy Sue retains the memory of a 42 year-old and with this knowledge and experience of the future she sets out to change the course of her life and the lives of others.
Kelly Robinson directs the show with lots of pace, but the choreography by Segio Trujillo is basic, although the moves in ‘Bongo Beat’ are impressive. The music by Bob Gaudio ranges from rock ‘n’ roll, to pop, to heavy rock and a few ballads thrown in. I particularly liked “Two Kinds of Fire“, which is sung brilliantly by Tim Howar and Ruthie Henshall.
Ruthie Henshall as Peggy Sue is superb. Her brass smile and wonderful voice dominates the show and her cheeky charm makes one feel good. She belts out “I Can't See Myself Without You” with extraordinary power! The rest of the company are competent, particularly worth a mention is Gavin Lee as Richard, a nerdy scientific genius, who brings some comic touches to the show.
The show has received moderate notices from the popular press...SHERIDAN MORLEY for TELETEXT says, “Henshall stops the show whenever there is much of a show to stop. The plot is somewhat skeletal, but as a dance festival it is superb.” BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, “The story’s transition from movie to the big musical stage isn’t a failure — but it’s only a partial success.” CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, “No one could describe Peggy Sue Got Married as a vintage musical. But those seeking undemanding entertainment, and a star performance that often transforms the turgid into the triumphant, should certainly give it a whirl.” MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, “On the positive side, Ruthie Henshall as Peggy Sue combines a Doris Day girl-next-door charm with a hint of sexy Dionysian wildness. “ He goes on to say, “The musical is meant to be a dynamic form. This one, with its stand-by-your-man ethos, feels like a hymn to emotional stasis.” PATRICK MARMION for THE EVENING STANDARD says, “Thankfully, Ruthie Henshall provides the wind beneath the musical's wings - especially with her virtuoso, Celine Dion-like numbers. “ He goes on to say “Together, the individual efforts give the doubtfully-matched music and story an evens chance of staying wedded in the West End - for the time being at least.” LISA MARTLAND for THE STAGE says, "Gaudio's music with lyrics by Leichtling, though hardly memorable, is pleasing enough." ROBERT HEWISON for THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "This is Henshall's musical, and she gives it all she's got. "
Although not a great musical “Peggy Sue Got Married” still has much to keep you entertained for two and half hours. It is worth seeing, but you're unlikely to rush back to see it a second time!
Links to full reviews from newspapers...