Pleasance Theatre, London – until 6 October 2019
The Pleasance Theatre in London is currently home to Midlife Cowboy. Director and writer Tony Hawks’ new comedy musical follows the members from Swindon Country and Western singers’ club as they try to overcome years of heartache after losing out to another group every year in the annual Railway Museum Gala Evening.
Stuart (Hawks) and Jane (Debra Stephenson) are the miscommunicating husband and wife couple who run the declining club and know the only way forward is to recruit some new members and change their approach in order to stand a chance of winning this year’s competition.
Duncan Wisbey plays widower Graham who has been part of the club for years and desperately wants to find love again by swiping left or right on the well-known dating app with no luck. Jane suggests he writes the advert to encourage new members. Penny (Georgina Field) and Dan (James Thackeray) arrive to be auditioned. Could they turn around the club’s fortunes?
The stage is dressed with wooden walls to create a western-style saloon room created by Edward Lidster. The saloon doors used as the entrance to their clubhouse room look really effective and the wooden walls are finished off with framed records, a bar area and various musical memorabilia.
Many of the cast play their own instruments. Hawks is a very accomplished guitarist and has a great singing voice and when Dan first starts to sing in the auditions his voice completely takes you by surprise, he is brilliant.
The original musical score keeps the country and Western-style theme throughout the entire production and with some very catchy repetitive tunes. It allows the audience to sing along with at the end if they chose to. Which raised the atmosphere in the theatre with a few ‘yee-haws” thrown in too.
The storyline is straight forward but it’s not completely predictable. For the singing, humour and general feel-good production, this certainly ticks all the right boxes.