*I was invited to this show free of charge, however, all opinions are my own
My love of rockabilly culture was ingrained in me from an early age. My Dad is a huge fan of the fifties era and our home was filled with the legendary sounds of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and more on a daily basis.
This naturally followed me into adulthood and has influenced my own musical tastes, personal style and passion for this marvellous period in history. Last night, I attended the press night of a brand-new rock and roll musical at the Lowry Theatre: Teddy.
Here is a brief overview:
Elephant and Castle, London. 1956. Saturday night.
Teddy and Josie are about to hit the streets of London for a good time. Hair quiffed. Red lipstick. Dressed toe to head in the latest threads. So what if it’s pouring down, they’re totally skint, and someone wants them dead? A little trouble never stopped a Ted from having a good time. Desperate times call for rock ‘n’ roll.
From the writer-director team behind Boudica at the Globe and Frankenstein at The Watermill Theatre and Wilton’s Music Hall in London comes Teddy, an award-winning, punchy new musical that races through the dark and damaged world of post-war London: a brand new Britain bombed to bits by the Blitz, belts tight with austerity, but ripe and ready for revolution.
With electrifying original songs plus some of the hugest hits from the 1950s performed by the on-stage live band Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts, Teddy is the ultimate story of teenage rebellion and the birth of a new musical era. Bursting with the energy of a live gig, this is theatre that leaves you on a high and jiving all the way home.
I arrived at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays accompanied by my little sister and we both eagerly anticipated the evening that lay ahead (we found ourselves sat between the lovely Donna from Polkadot Pink who is one of my good blogging buddies and Lisa George of Coronation Street fame which was slightly bizarre. After a quick post-show chat, I discovered that Lisa also adores all things vintage and rockabilly so we were definitely in good company).
As the lights dimmed and the chattering crowd began to focus, we were treated to a mini-gig from Johnny Valentine and The Broken Hearts.
What soon followed was a fast-paced show filled with enthusiasm and delivered by a small but vibrant cast. The witty, poetic and captivating dialogue kept me engaged throughout and the live band performed original music with vigour and an infectious rhythm.
A rubble-filled London backdrop added to the sense of comradery and rebellion of the characters. The familiar story of ‘Boy Meets Girl’ was far from tiresome; in fact, this time, there was no traditional love story nor happy ending.
With some dark scenes and dialogue littered with profanities and cigarette smoking, this is certainly not your cliched, vanilla ‘musical’ by any stretch of the imagination and that’s exactly why it was refreshing to watch.
The cast for Teddy includes Molly Chesworth (Josie), Andrew Gallo (Sammy ‘The Sticks’ Smith), George Parker (Teddy), Freya Parks (Jenny O’Malley), Harrison White (Buster Watson) and Dylan Wood (Johnny Valentine).
First seen at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015, Teddy has music by Dougal Irvine with musical direction by Harrison White, set design by Max Dorey, lighting design by Christopher Nairne, sound design by Max Pappenheim, costume design by Holly Rose Henshaw and casting by Natalie Gallacher for Pippa Ailion Casting.
On the drive home, I found myself humming to the songs from the show and filled with costume envy, mixed with an overwhelming urge to finally learn how to lindy hop.
*If you want a little taster, you can find music by Johnny Valentine and The Broken Hearts on Spotify here.