Star rating: ***
The David Essex fanclub was out in force for the first Glasgow performance of a new musical featuring his hit songs. Devised by Essex with writer and producer Jon Conway, a show set around a travelling fair was the obvious choice for the heart-throb famed for his dark curly hair. Reminiscent of Carousel, but updated to the flared 1970s, the action is introduced by Irish Gypsy Rosa, played by Louise English, setting the scene with A Winter's Tale. Unfortunately, pitch problems detracted from this opening - and her repeat performance as a closing narrative device confirmed this shortcoming.
Although that story is a predictable tale of ill-fated love triangles featuring jaded Levi (David Essex) and his wayward son Jack (Paul-Ryan Carberry), what works well is the drip-feed of information regarding the taboo subject of a tragedy in the family. Jack's two leading ladies, Alice and Mary (understudy Lara Denning and Emma Thornett), duet on He Noticed Me, raising the standard of vocal performance, and Here We Are Together is a genial ensemble piece.
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Motorbike number Silver Dream Machine was ill-advised by contrast, the sheer antithesis of leather-clad danger (although you might not have guessed so from the whooping of members of the audience).
Essex's gravelly voice is the main attraction - and just as well as he was dressed in an unflattering plaid shirt and period pork-pie hat for most of the show. Youthful Jack the lad should provide the sex factor, but all the big-dipper innuendo left much too little to the imagination. Even with dodgem cars and merry-go-round horses, what this show fails to do is make the fair look much fun - and surely that should have been the easy part.