Posts Tagged ‘saucy jack and the space vixens’

Mini-review – Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – Two Box Productions at the Two Brewers, Clapham

January 21, 2015

I’ve had a bit of a mixed history with Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens. The first time I saw it, I absolutely hated it: it was an amateur production (in both senses of the word), and the corny/bad dialogue just came off as bad. The two great songs – “Space Vixen” and “Glitterboots Saved My Life” – were recognizably snappy but didn’t have enough pizzazz to save the show. But, really, great songs just don’t count for much if the cast singing them aren’t good, and no musical can survive just on tunes without acting and (preferably) a good story.

Which brings us from 2008 to 2013, when I saw the Leicester Square Theater production of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens. Suddenly, with the kind of high quality talent London seems to be dripping in, the campy fun of the show was suddenly highlighted, like a turkey sandwich or a burger that with the addition of bacon suddenly becomes a thing of wonder. And thus I became a convert to the joy of this show – or, in show terms, I became a Space Vixen. I came back two more times during the run of the show because it was just that much of a pick me up for me. Thus when an invite came from Two Box productions to see a production of Saucy Jack right up the street from me, at Clapham Common, I jumped on it. I’ve got a bad case of the mean reds this January and this sounded like just what the doctor ordered.

Walking into the back room of the Two Brewers (it’s just a little further down the street than the Sainsbury’s, but on the opposite side), I was impressed by what a great space it was for the show. Saucy Jack is set in a bar, and thus can play very well in a bar (especially since it comes with a pre-recorded soundtrack), but they had upped the level by having the cast members out mingling with the audience members like actual bar staff. I was sat by Booby Shevale herself (Lawrence Bolton), which I thought was great – everyone was already in character! We also had a group of dancers posing as barmaids, and spotlit in the corner I could see the rather brooding Saucy Jack (Joel Dyer) sitting at a table looking … well, broody probably isn’t the word, more like poorly shaven.

Unfortunately, this production didn’t hit the highs of the Leicester Square 2013 show. I blame a bit of it on budget – I want a bit more from my Space Vixens’ costumes, for example – but also voice of our second space vixen, Anna Labia (Nikita Smith) was a bit of a disaster during her big opening number – off key and off rhythm. That was a bit hard to recover from for me (mentally) and made the scenes which were supposed to seem self-consciously campy just seem a little, well, amateur and tired.

It’s clear, though, that for most people this production still delivered what they were hoping for – some fun disco anthems, loads of innuendo, and a chance to wear glittery boots – so perhaps it was just a matter of different expectations and a whole lot more alcohol. Still, I am hoping to see a version that has me rushing back for seconds. And for a friend of mine who is a hard core Saucy Jack fan (and went on Friday), her tickets for next weekend’s performance are already secured, so if she’s to believed, this performance numbers among the good ‘uns. It just didn’t hit it for me.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Saturday, January 17th, 2015. It has two more performances on Friday and Saturday January 23rd and 24th. I know last Saturday night was sold out, so be sure to check online rather than just showing up and hoping for tickets.)

Review – Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – Leicester Square Theater

August 4, 2013

One of the disadvantages of going to the theater as much as I do is occasionally getting on a run of bad shows that leave me feeling like I will never again have a really good night at the theater. That’s how I felt walking into the production of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens at the Leicester Square Theater. I was horribly disappointed by the flat samey-samey-ness of the musical Titanic I’d seen three nights before, and truth be told, the last time I’d seen this musical performed, well, let’s say it was memorable and leave it at that. But I’d been invited by a friend and I found it impossible to say no; maybe the pleasure of hanging out with her would compensate for yet another painful night at the theater.

As it turns out, Saucy Jack was the most fun I’d had at a musical since Annie Get Your Gun at the Union Theater. In the basement bar, we had the advantage of a really intimate space (maybe 50 seats?), yet one they’d manage to trick out pretty well with lights. The show opened with a few of the lesser characters coming onto stage, wearing kind of tatty costumes and over-acting … oh, God, I thought, here we go again.

And then the Space Vixens arrived. Dressed in white and silver with the requisite shiny boots, they looked fantastic, with bubble “laser” guns and LED wrist bands adding to the effect. They launched into “Glitter Boots Saved My Life ” … and suddenly it all fell into place for me. I was no longer sitting in a muggy, tiny basement down a less frequented Leicester Square alleyway – I was on the Planet Frottage!

The three vixens had really good voices (even though the sound quality was varying immensely due to preview wobbles), and they had some whip-smart dance moves. In fact, the whole show had signs of being, not just deliberately, but competently choreographed. Furthermore, as performed by this cast, all of the horrible sexual puns/innuendo were actually making me (and my friends) laugh. As the tension and excitement built through the rest of the show, I found myself … well, singing along, bouncing in my seat, and finally joining the cast in the end of show boogie. Man, now THAT is how a musical is supposed to make you feel.

Anyway, it’s now two days later, and I’m still firmly earwormed with the soundtrack. I’m also planning on going back, maybe even twice, because that kind of up feeling is what I’m always hoping I’ll get from a musical. Only this time, I’m gonna wear my shiny boots and strap on my pocket laser, because I am ready to be a space vixen!

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, August 2nd, 2013. It is booking until September 15th.)

Mini-review – Blink Twice – Above the Stag

August 2, 2010

While I don’t usually bother with opening nights, the “version two” of last summer’s brilliant Blink! And You Missed It was a show I wanted to catch as soon as it opened. I like musicals more and more as time goes on, and the opportunity to see selected songs from shows that may never be revived could not be passed up. “Blink Twice” (title taken from “It’s a Business,” from the Kander and Ebb show Curtains) delivered everything but the Sondheim, with songs from musicals painful (Martin Guerre, “Live With Somebody You Love”), cultish (Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens’ tunefully brain-damaged “Glitter Boots Saved My Life,” as awful as I remembered, and an earnest song from Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, which I’d never heard of before), and almost-nearly-forgotten (Bad Girls). We had a chance to laugh at people’s arrogance (Moby Dick, seriously, how did that make it out of the … er, dock?), wonder at audience’s ignorance (Grand Hotel, seriously, why did it die?), and bust a gut laughing at some truly great songwriters’ brilliance. To this end, I recommend as the highlight of the show “Take It All Off,” from the presumably dead-and-buried Jerry’s Girls. I don’t wanna ruin the fun for you of it hitting you in the head like a lead filled glove, but afterwards I highly recommend you look for it on YouTube and watch the Israeli drag show version.

Overall, this was a good night out, a great value (as ever) at £14, and unmissable if you’re a hardcore musical theater nut. Really, if my biggest complaint was that the women need to all be wearing sheer-to-waist hose, you gotta realize I had to nitpick to find something that didn’t work for me. Go, enjoy, and come back here and tell me what new song is earwormed for you. For me, it’s “two trampolines would make one good brassiere …”

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, July 29, 2010. It continues through August 22nd.)

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – Fysh 2 Fry Theatre at The Golden Arms Pub, Bedford

June 8, 2008

While the idea of a play with a space theme, in which disco music and glittery fashion play a major part, seemed a good idea, in retrospect I’m finding it almost impossible to write about this show. It was clearly done by an amateur theater troupe, and I can’t really find it in my heart to rip them apart. I mean, maybe all of the major talent migrates to the big city from the hinterlands; maybe the middle and minor talents do, too. I doubt that anyone who goes to see this show is expecting, I don’t know, Hairspay, but I’ll say just a little bit about it for those who, I don’t know, like that car-crash feeling.

1. The theater (a side room attached to a pub) smelled like mold, yet through this I could smell the man taking our tickets – as in, as I stood five feet away buying my tickets, I could smell him though the mold. Fortunately, after I walked away from that part of the hall, I could only smell the mold. (I am guessing the Ouse had flooded the bar at some point, or something along those lines.)
2. The bar had neither cider nor hard alcohol, so I was stuck drinking overpriced, tiny bottles of red wine.
3. There were cute lights on the tables you could press to have the saucily clad waitresses slash cast members take your drinks order. This was fun. I only wish there had been more things I wanted on the menu.
4. There’s probably no reason to ever perform all of Baker Street or Leaving on a Jet Plane to a theatrical audience – the songs are just too horrifying, especially when performed by people who don’t sing well, or at all. (I was told the second song was actually supposed to be bad – but it was actually sung well, though that didn’t make up for the horror of hearing this song in its entirety.)
5. The script was trying to be bad, and yet, in the spots where it wasn’t trying, it was still bad, and not in a Flash Gordon kind of way. It was just poorly written.
6. The consistent highlight of the night was watching the expressions on the faces of the 8 year old girl, 11 year old boy, and mother and father sitting at the table across the way from us. From the very start, when we were introduced to characters “Vulva Savanna” and “Willhelm von Whackoff,” I was pretty sure this was not in any way a family friendly show. (I’d also been told that the space vixens used dildos for their rayguns, but this was not the case in this show.) I couldn’t imagine why they were there, unless they were just absolutely lacking in any kind of live entertainment in Bedford. Over and over again I saw the boy smirking at a joke he shouldn’t have understood while the girl looked confused or bored. However, he roared out loud at the necrophiliac moment. And, man, when the bartender and Wilhelm stripped to their lurex short shorts and sang “Fetish Number from Nowhere” – I thought the mom was going to spontaneously combust.
7. I didn’t leave at intermission, but in part this was because I was stuck in Bedford. That said, this still wasn’t the worst show I’ve ever seen, though according to the person who encouraged us to see it (and who is a huge Saucy Jack fan), it was, in fact, the worst version she had ever seen, though she still enjoyed herself in spite of this fact and is going to see it again, somewhere else, next weekend.
8. Both “Glitterboots Saved My Life” and “All You Need Is Disco” were pretty good songs, really. I certainly could relate to them.
9. The Bartender was absolutely the most fun to watch of any of the cast members – he had a real talent for upstaging much bigger roles.