Monday, March 16, 2009

Witches of Eastwick, Congress Theatre Eastbourne

When I saw that Witches of Eastwick the musical starring Marti Pellow was coming to Eastbourne, I knew I must organise an excursion, and it didn't take much persuasion to muster a gang from amongst my more theatrically-minded friends. Seven of us - three gay guys and four girls, rocked up at the Congress last Wednesday night, all strangely giddy in anticipation. All apart from my mum, everyone was of an age to recall Pellow's superstar peak as lead singer of Wet Wet Wet, and though none of us were even particularly big fans at the time, they were one of the biggest home-grown groups of our impressionable childhood years.

Despite being familiar with its star, I didn't know the show at all, and can't remember having seen the 80s film version, though I feel I must have done at some point. The plot didn't exactly hold any big surprises, but it was an entertaining couple of hours nonetheless. After a spirited and colourfully-costumed opening chorus number, the three leading ladies drew us into a magical mood with the spookily wishful 'Make Him Mine'. Conjured by the trio's accidental summoning, Pellow appeared soon after as the self-assured sleazemeister Darryl Van Horne - a character that clearly comes easily to him. Compared to the three 'witches', all of whom were excellent, Pellow's performance seemed conspicuously stiff, and his dialogue often gabbled. But songs such as 'Dance with the Devil' proved that the boy can still belt a tune, and he bounced around the stage with an admirable amount of energy. He certainly got the seal of approval from the gay contingent of our party, as they mock-fanned themselves, mouthing "I would" to each other; even one of the girls (and no, it wasn't me) professed to having developed a crush by the end. Though he doesn't really do it for me, I have to admit he's in pretty good shape for a middle-aged ex-junkie.

I wouldn't put Witches of Eastwick up there with my all-time favourite musicals (e.g. Sweeney Todd, Wicked, Hedwig), but it was a good fun night out, and nice to be back on home turf with some of my all-time favourite people. Let's do it again soon, Ladies.

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