Lipstick on Your Collar – July 2010 By John Thaxter

Judging by a lively audience of seriously ageing, but still eager rockers, Simon Gross has assembled the perfect collection of Fifties and Sixties numbers to build a rhythmic rapport between his talented young performers and the Brinsworth House showbiz retirees. The audience thronged to enjoy the afternoon show and join in at every opportunity, adding their own vocals and hand jive demonstrations as if it were still the good old days.

The format is familiar – a tightly choreographed programme is set to a specially pre-recorded backing track, plus a dazzling array of retro wigs and costumes to tie every song to its particular period and original singer.

A tall order you might suppose and the easy, appealing charm of the performers conceals a terrific, professional attack, plus a tough touring schedule that takes them to dozens of retirement homes and hospital wards throughout the summer months.

Donna Marsh has a melodic brilliance that captures every nuance of these melodies, from the Connie Francis title number and Who’s Sorry Now? to a perfect Scottish bounce for Lulu’s Boom, Bang a Bang. Her phrasing skill is truly impressive, with every word of every lyric delivered with clarity and emotional understanding, from Doris Day to Dusty Springfield.

Her co-star Robert Sanderson also steps effortlessly into the shoes of six or seven rock legends, including Bill Hayley and Cliff Richard, bringing those old numbers and their style back to vibrant life. And he has a warm and winning personality that gives this small-scale show its sense of space and individual style.

This is another welcome hit for the SG stable of youngsters, working their way to success in the world of revue and musical theatre.

Production information

Brinsworth House, Twickenham, July 29 and touring until August 26

Director: Simon Gross

Producers: Simon Gross Presents

Cast: Donna Marsh, Robert Sanderson

Running time: 1hr 15mins