Bewitched by first Scarborough staging of musical Pal Joey at YMCA - show runs until Sunday

Tom Astbury as Joey and Rebecca Kelly-Evans as Gladys
Tom Astbury as Joey and Rebecca Kelly-Evans as Gladys

The staging of Pal Joey at the YMCA Theatre is the first production of the Rodgers and Hart musical put on in Scarborough.

The last professional production in the UK was in the West End in 1980.

It launched Denis Lawson as a West End star and provided Dame Sian Phillips with her first singing role.

There are many reasons why it has not been revived: it has an anti-hero in the philandering Joey Evans, an unhappy ending and is, at its heart,amoral.

Blackmail, casual sex and songs packed with double entendre and innuendo are its stock in trade. South Pacific might have a troubled backdrop but everyone comes out singing There’s Nothing Like A Dame.

The film version with Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak was given a happy ending, Joey was ‘cleaned’ up and songs including My Funny Valentine and the Lady is a Tramp were added to the score.

Director Tim Tubbs was not put off by the musical’s history and his UK Foundation for Dance company steps out at the YMCA Theatre with confidence, glamour and sass.

Musical director Alex Weatherhill has made a terrific job of the arrangements – conjuring up the speakeasy-atmosphere of Chicago in the 1930s with flapper girls round every corner ready to Charleston.

Joey is the MC of a nightclub – he catches the eye of married Vera Simpson who sets him up as a kept man. At the same time Joey is eyeing up tailor’s assistant Linda English and every chorus girl in Mike’s club.

In another first for Scarborough, Tim Astbury steps out as a leading man.

He can sing and has presence. He gives Joey, the man with an eye for the ladies and no conscience, a hard edge.

Leading ladies are Georgie Samuels as Vera and Pippa Mundey as Linda. They are light and dark, sweet and sour.

Both have fantastic voices with Samuels brings the house down with her sultry, sexy and saucy Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Their duet Take Him is a delight as was Samuels and Astbury’s Den of Iniquity.

Tubbs maintains the cynical edge throughout the production – the chorus line was a mix-match of women with varying degrees of talent – numbers like Flower Garden of My Heart, Plant You Now, Dig You Later and A Great Big Town had a camp knowingness.

Rebecca Kelly-Evans is a stand-out as Gladys and Sarah Cox gets her moment singing Zip as gossip columnist Melba Snyder.

Nathan Mundey was given the limelight as Victor and shone in Happy Hunting Horn and the tap-dancing number Do It The Hard Way.

The show had all the glamour of the 1930s – feathers and boas. Two stages of singers – dressed in silk and satin – ala the Andrew Sisters act like the backing group for the dancers.

Cast: Tom Astbury, Claire Edwards, Rebecca Kelly-Evans, Pippa Mundey, Georgie Samuels, Sarah Cox, Keagan Lee Jones, Nathan Mundey, Robin Newman, Andrew Clay, Chris Curtis, Dave Blaker.

Nightclub singers: Maisie Atkinson, Pauline Elliott, Anita Hill, Tilly Jackson, Kath Mundey, Pauline Newman, Linda Polkowski and Sylvia Terry

Dancers: Katie Coole, Kirsty Downey, Kaya Hutchinson and Emily Watkinson

Production: Tim Tubbs, Alex Weatherhill, Katrina Flynn, Jacqueline Greaves, Liam Downey, Mark Watling, Lesley Machen, Richard Ponter, Shirley Jennings, Anne Mortlock, Doug Stanway and Hilary Watts.

Paly Joey is on at the YMCA Theatre, St Thomas Street, Scarborough, on Friday October 4 and Saturday October 5 at 7.30pm and Sunday October 6 at 3pm.

Tickets: 01723 506750