The first thing I have mentioned to anyone that has asked me about this musical hasn’t been about the tongue-in-cheek humour. Nor has it been about the morale lifting nature of the songs. The main thing that really took my breath away was the sheer talent within the cast. Speaking as someone that can play an instrument to a mediocre level, I can only admire the skill shown in the cast. I can only dream of being able to act, sing and/or dance. To be able to do one to a decent standard is impressive yet most of the cast not only do all three but also play instruments as part of the live orchestra. As if this wasn’t enough, there are members of the cast such as Vivien Carter that can not only dance, but do tap and ballet alongside singing and playing instruments. Or Amelia Cormack who plays the violin, piano, does tap and sings! And that’s to mention but a few. Undoubtedly there are other people within theatre that are able to do this, but I think it’s wonderful to showcase this talent.
Radio Times is a happy, uplifting musical set in 1939 during the Blitz in London. I found the start of to be quite informal. Jeeps (Christian Edwards) just walks onto the stage and using a lever on the set, turns the house lights down and then we’re off into our first song. The sset is a radio station, allowing the audience to be part of a live audience during the show. There is a sense of reality within the musical, the actors talking to one another and moving around on stage when it’s not their lines gives it a bit more life. The lack of the fourth wall within the ‘on air’ section allows interaction with the audience. As radio shows would normally have a live audience this one is no different, before they go ‘on air’, Wilfred (Ben Fox) warms us up. During the show, Jeeps whilst doing all the sound effects also holds up the ‘applause’ cards for our cues. The sense of reality became apparent for a couple sat behind us.
When the interval was announced, playing to the Blitz context with the bomb sirens going off, Heathcliffe (John Conroy) says that it would be safer for us to take an interval and go to the lower part of the theatre until it all dies down. To which I then heard gravely concerned voices about the structure of the theatre and that they hoped the musical would be able to continue soon.
It is easy to forgive the older couple behind me for forgetting where and what time period we’re in. When you walk in to take your seats across the sound system is old news bulletins about Nazi planes and areas that have been badly affected by the bombs. Whilst the context for the musical is a difficult and depressing time, the need to keep morale up is infectious. Using this as its background allows it to be full of happy songs and what I can only describe as ‘Dad’ jokes, regardless of your sense of humour you cannot help but laugh. It’s all tongue-in-cheek and harmless fun. If the aim of this musical is to leave it audience smiling and laughing then all I can say is mission accomplished.