EST. 1978



Anyone of a ‘certain age’ will remember the film of “Summer Holiday” back in 1963 as an opportunity for a fresh faced Cliff Richard to sing his way across Europe. Dryburn used the musical to bring the story to the stage for a talented cast of younger (and not so young but equally talented) members.

The four London Bus mechanics comprising unofficial ‘leader’ Don, confident Steve, shy Edwin and cocky Cyril (Lee Brannigan, Phil Martin, Joe Coulson and Gary Eglinton) transform a big red London bus into a mobile ‘hotel’ to travel across Europe on their Summer Holiday.  En-route they rescue singing trio “Do, Ray Me”, ‘fey’ Angie, blousy Mimsie and ditzy Alma (Libby Kennedy, Charlotte Archer and Emma Scott). Meanwhile American singing sensation Barbara (Claire Bidnell) joins them after escaping from the suffocating attentions of her pushy mother, Stella (Annette Morris) and her superbly camp agent, Jerry (Lee Passmoor).

The energy on stage was electric as the show went through a fair few of the back catalogue of Cliff Richard songs which were appreciated fully by the enthusiastic audience.  My own personal favourite Cliff song, ‘Constantly’, was sung in controlled and emotional fashion by Claire.

There was not a lot for the chorus to do in this principal-led show, but director Michelle Coulson and choreographer Helen Wilson managed to squeeze every last ounce of potential from the whole cast with some clever characterisations of dodgy policemen, blushing brides and bridesmaids, rocking clerics, Marlene Dietrich lookalikes and incompetent border guards. Providing continuity during scene changes was a quintet of young dancers who left me exhausted just watching them. If I could indulge myself, my ‘laugh out loud’ moment was “Cyril’s” long speech to the Italian border guards, explaining in cockney pidgin English his own version of the synopsis of their trip until then – worthy of, and receiving, applause in itself.

Music under the direction of John Hudson was an authentic 60’s sound and all credit to the band’s talent.  A special mention must be reserved for the ‘London Bus’, full-size and very authentic looking, which helped make the show, and probably provided a nightly workout for the stage crew.

This was a superb vehicle (pun intended) for the whole of this talented group to provide the audience with enjoyment through their energetic and melodic performances. Well done Dryburn.

Author: Gordon Richardson