That'll Be The Day

Musical tour through the '50s, '60s & '70s, from skiffle to glam rock.
New Theatre, Wed December 5th 2007, Sat December 13th 2008 & at fairly frequent intervals ongoing!

May 4, 2007
Being just the right side of 30, I was the youngest person in the That’ll Be The Day audience: “Irene” was celebrating her 92nd birthday and “Charles” who had turned up to the occasion dressed as a Teddy Boy was, at a guess, the just the right side of 65. All the same, this was not an occasion to bemoan the present, and it wasn’t even the time to indulge in nostalgia: it was an evening of big-bum wiggling, wig-wearing fun.

I don’t often think about wigs, or their sociological implications, but That’ll Be The Day turned my attention to the matter of hairpieces. Not only were there ponytail hair extensions, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton and Mick Jagger wigs on stage but also the theatre seats were occupied by punters donning oversized fake afros and quiffs. Wigs, unlike masks, are the brave performer’s prop: you can’t hide behind a bad wig.

That’ll Be The Day was conceived by Trevor Payne who grew up listening to and loving rock and roll and 21 years ago decided create a showcase of his favourite artists’ work as an experiment. He is unquestionably the backbone to the show, providing inexhaustible energy and expertly delivered comedy. His performance as Cliff Richard was hilarious; bouncing about the stage like a teenager with springs for feet, he still managed to mimic Cliff’s vocals eerily accurately (not that I endorse Cliff or his music). Payne also managed to carry off larking about in a wild array of unflattering outfits, including leopard-print leggings and a babygrow (although not at the same time).

That’ll Be The Day doesn’t try to be ground-breaking or refined and is clearly proud of the fact that it stems from the club and holiday centre entertainment scene. The show does boast some honourable talents; the Dusty Springfield rendition was extraordinary – and to bring you back to earth, Dusty is seen a few moments later drumming for the Everly Brothers' set.

Far from being a self-indulgent attention-seeking performance, this was a team of like-minded individuals having fun being the people they admire but don’t idolize – a comparatively healthy attitude in light of today’s celebrity-obsessed culture. Plus, there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dance to Status Quo while Johnny Cash shakes his maracas.

The most fantastic, world-class value for money show ever imaginable!

Trevor Payne’s That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show is a production that has put down deep roots with its audiences in its 23 year history and most audience members knows exactly what they’ve come for - rock and roll Christmas music, a bit of panto and variety show style comedy from a simpler time. You can see the warm exchange of the familiar between Mr. Payne, Gary Anderson, another longstanding member of the troupe and audience members who know the show well.

At the New Theatre on George Street in Oxford on Saturday night, the show opened with a rollback of the years to the late 1950s for such Christmastime hits as Crying by Roy Orbison and You’re Sixteen by Johnny Burnette, both sung artfully by Mr. Anderson and Mark Street respectively. The band kept the show energized and on pace with various arrangements of former Christmas hits that featured a double drum solo, a tight rendition of the Dave Clark 5 and a dual keyboard rock out. The band was well rehearsed in both their music and occasional choreography, something that unfortunately could not always be said for the principal singing troupe. Julia Greenham, a founding member of That’ll Be the Day along with Mr. Payne, was perfect for the Ronnie Spector Christmas hits vocals as well as those on the ABBA hit, Mamma Mia. Jody Lawson and Nikki Renee Hechavarria-Hume provided strong supporting vocals as well as several good solos during the show, but as a trio, the three women just did not blend well. Rebel Dean, the newest of the three primary male vocalists of the troupe played a mean guitar solo in one song, but seemed to have tempo problems with the arrangements.

Despite the bizarre, huge globs of snow foam that occasionally fell like bricks on stage, occasionally hitting a singer in the head, the under-rehearsed and awkward choreography, and the stage decorations looking a bit thrown together from the final sale at Woolies, all was easily overlooked until the show came to a thundering halt with an unfunny and lengthy panto of Jack and the Beanstalk just before intermission. When the lights came up, the audience ran for the ice cream and the liquor.

A baffling beginning to the second act pictured a surreal street scene of Chicago of all places, as painted by Edward Hopper, where the Blues Brothers and Marilyn Monroe hosted a set of dancing and singing numbers that were questionably relevant as Christmas songs. The production finally got back its rhythm and sense of fun, finishing cheerily if not a little frantically with a string of traditional carols sung rock and roll style and a final guitar solo by Mr. Hawkins that at last, had the audience back on its feet.

The show returns (in its usual format) to Oxford in April.
With well over 4,500 performances in its 20 years on the road, the brilliant ‘That’ll be The Day’ cast treated fans at the New Theatre in Oxford to a truly electric Christmas Show.

For those unfamiliar with 'That'll Be the Day', it has been going from strength to strength since 1987. With a fresh new show every year Trevor Payne (Writer, Director and Producer) and a hugely talented cast, take us on a roller-coaster ride through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. This foot-stomping show, interspersed with zany comedy and uncannily accurate impersonations, leaves you wondering how they can produce this array of stars with a cast of just 11 people.

Many in the enthusiastic audience at this full house were obviously familiar with past shows and were eager to join in from the start. The show began with a fast-paced medley of Christmas songs, getting everyone in the festive mood and was followed by a string of songs by The Shadows, The Beatles, Mud and Shawaddy Waddy to name but a few. Every member of this talented group produced polished performances, but Katy Setterfield’s Dusty Springfield was so eerily accurate it had the true ‘tingle factor’. Trevor Payne’s wickedly tongue-in-cheek Cliff Richard impersonation was just a joy to watch. A video screen was used to great effect for some very funny sketches including one of Fanny Craddock making doughnuts and another including a Christmas advertisement featuring a flatulent horse.

The first half ended with a delightfully non-PC Pantomime featuring Cinderella, her ugly sisters Suzannah and Trinny, and an enormous red brassiere in place of the glass slipper. The clever script was naughty, but never offensive, with some exceedingly funny gags. The second half had us partying in Las Vegas with Gary Anderson, as a totally believable Tom Jones, singing a duet with Marilyn Monroe alias Julia Greenham. There followed yet another string of wonderful performances, every one in its own right deserving a mention, but it was Katy Setterfield again, who stood out with her amazing impersonation of Cher.

The finale, a collection of favourite Christmas songs, had the audience out of their seats and singing at the tops of their voices. This was a wonderful night out, full of happy songs and nostalgia. I left the Theatre on a real high and certainly not ready to go home for a mug of Horlicks!

If you missed it – don’t be too sad – they’ll be back in Oxford with a brand new show on the 9th April 2008
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