Pete ‘n’ Keely, 4 Stars
Tristan Bates Theatre
2ndto20th May 2017
“The European Premiere of the off-Broadway musical hit Pete ‘n’ Keely comes to Tristan Bates
Theatre – a string of hits, a cast of two, ‘Forever Plaid’ meets ‘I Do, I Do’. Katie Kerr (Little Shop
of Horrors, Menier Chocolate Factory; Fat Pig, Comedy Theatre; Sweeney Todd, English National
Opera) and David Bardsley (Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre; Guys and Dolls, National Theatre; The
Fix, Donmar Warehouse) lead this award-winning musical, featuring unforgettable renditions of
the era’s popular favourites.
It’s 1968. America’s Swingin’ Sweethearts, Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens, are performing live on
national television! The only catch? They haven’t spoken to each other in five years. Through a
non-stop parade of song hits from the 50s and 60s – highlighted by elaborately staged flashbacks
– Pete and Keely relive the roller coaster ride that got them where they are today… divorced!
Pete and Keely have some unfinished business and the tension bubbling beneath the show’s
glitzy surface threatens to boil over at any moment in a confrontation that will definitely not be
ready for prime time.
As the inevitable blow-up gets closer, the songs become increasingly double- edged. History
repeats itself, live and in full colour, as Pete and Keely head towards a conclusion that’s at once
uproariously funny and surprisingly touching”.
Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars
This hilarious comedy is a little gem of a show! Cartoon-style Set design pings out that it’s all very tongue in cheek! With a lot of heart, a slim but warm-hearted book, and some incredible singing from Katie Kerr, this show is so much fun!
Look at the pictures and what you see is what you get. A fun bubbly design from Emily Bestow is the foundation for the live TV Studio performance which is the setting for the show.
The lighting is a little rough and quite different from the Mitchell Reeve quality designs seen previously. Single front light spots for solo songs, several colour changes as the lights fade on, brightly lit drummers in stage right top corner while the other band members lit more subtley …… But this works on a cartoon musical comedy, especially when you have the incredible talent of Katie Kerr to grab your attention every moment she’s on stage!
The microphone cables do seem to get in a bit of a tangle with legs and chairs, and hand mics have to pass hands between performers quite a lot in the blocking all of which becomes quite distracting. It’s a shame that wireless hand mics weren’t used by Sam Glossop for the Sound Design. Despite the mics occasionally David Bardsley is hard to hear over the band.
Despite the occasional rough edges of the technical this is a great night out! Feet stampy songs beautifully sung with a fun book peppered with comedy!
And look at the fun Set Design:
(Photo credit The Other Richard)