12 January 2011

Salad Days at the Riverside is a delight

One of the best ways to get your cultural life organised is to get somebody else to do it for you.

This works well for me with my employer arranging group bookings for some events and a friend arranging all our trips to the Orange Tree Theatre. It works the other way too when I take friends to Glyndebourne each year.

Now I am developing this a little further and a group of four of us have agreed to take it in turns to arrange a cultural night out that is not one that we would usually think of.

And so I found myself at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith to see Salad Days of which I knew very little and it was only a chance remark late in the day that alerted me to it being a musical. I went anyway.

Riverside Studios is an interesting if small place. That is there is a nice bar with good beer and an unusual menu but too few seats so I was left in the not unfamiliar position of propping up the bar with a pint and a bowl of nuts.

Studio 2 was arranged like an indoor tennis court with the seating set in straight terraces along the two long sides. This kept me close to the action and made the atmosphere really cosy.

Salad Days charmed from the beginning with catchy (oft repeated) songs and some superb performances.

In particular, the leading lady, Katie Moore, was dazzling and captivating. The 1950's dresses really suited her too.

The singing was great, the dancing was energetic and enthusiastic (the story is all about dancing), the acting was convincing and the engagement with the audience was above and beyond the call of duty with the front rows being asked to join the big dance.

The cast and songs were both bubbly, joyful and uplifting. Even an old grump like me was smiling, laughing and tapping toes. I drew the line at the group singing though!

I don't, as a rule, like musicals, and Salad Days is one of those delightful exceptions that prove the rule.

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