Review by Steve Gibbin
Going Grey The Musical, Drip Drop Theatre, Ripley Town Hall.
Ripley Town Hall played host to a hugely impressive performance of Going Grey The Musical by local writer E.C.R. Roberts.
Going Grey covers all the big themes - love, loss, death, redemption and the premature onset of grey hair with brio and a fine mix of comedy and song.
Indeed, the songs were so good the person next to me could not believe they had all been composed by the one writer.
Lyrically full of wit, spanning a host of genres and styles ranging from salsa to good time rock n roll, the melodies stayed with me long after the show had finished.
Credit must obviously go to Roberts for crafting such a hit parade of musical delights, but so too the cast, who without exception delivered the songs with an assurance and range that did justice to the quality of the writing.
The music was, in writing and performance, superb.
And so to the plot. The central character, Helen, returns to her work as a York cafe owner after the death of her husband.
There follows a catalogue of side splitting comedy turns that had the audience in stitches.
A trio of waitresses who are all infatuated with the same, gorgeous customer stumble over themselves to say the right thing - and fail; while Alan, a geeky, scrabble obsessed and ever so slightly creepy, adolescent admirer, seizes on Helen’s bereavement as the perfect opportunity to make his move with all the sophistication and sensitivity of, well, a geeky adolescent.
Her sisters are well meaning if not entirely understanding.
One, a brazen sex-obsessed and self-confessed money grabber is hell bent on finding her another man, while the other, a yoga practising new age spiritualist, offers redemption in the form of a transgender fortune teller.
And then enters Philip - a debonair, intelligent and kind author who steals her heart after a wonderfully awkward encounter in which Helen inadvertently reveals more than any self respecting lady should on meeting a stranger.
The tension between Helen’s love for her deceased husband, to whom she still feels bound, and the love she increasingly feels for Philip make for a more poignant and searching production than one might expect from a musical comedy.
Indeed, one of the great strengths of this production is that amid the humour and fun, there is a warmth and humanity towards each of the characters whose vulnerability, awkwardness and optimism we can laugh at so readily perhaps because, at some level, we can recognise in them a flicker of truth about ourselves.
All in all think Grease set in North Yorkshire amid middle aged romantics and you are about there.
This is a fine musical that deserves to run and run - if you get the chance to go and see it, go.
If nothing else, you’ll feel better about going grey.