Review: Jackie the musical at Manchester Opera House



During the 1970s, “Jackie” published a mix of fashion and beauty tips, gossip, short stories and comic strips. The latter were usually illustrated with line drawings or posed photographs, especially if the story involved a “reader’s true life experience”.

This musical tells the story of one ex-reader named, unsurprisingly, Jackie (Janet Dibley). Now in her 50s, newly single and tired of modern dating methods, she turns to her 15-year-old self (Daisy Steere), and to her old copies of the magazine, for advice. Both gave touching performances. The story examines the differences between how a young hopeful teenager and a more world weary, experienced (yet still hopeful) mature woman approach relationship breakdowns.

To get a near capacity audience at the Manchester Opera House on a rainy Tuesday evening is no mean feat, but the venue filled up very quickly and the sense of nostalgic excitement was palpable. Middle aged women with teenaged eyes and faces aglow packed the auditorium. These women (and a very few men) arrived in happy groups; everyone, it seemed, had come ready to be entertained, relive on their youth and enjoy the music. Their expectations were more than fulfilled and everyone was on their feet by the end, dancing & singing and, in effect, becoming part of the story…

The set appeared at 1st glance to be simple & minimalistic; however with the clever use of lighting (including 2 disco balls) and 2 movable sets of stairs it was used to great effect to create different scenes, ranging from a home, to a wine bar, to a park.

Placing the band on stage was inspired and gave the illusion at times of being in a night club. Excellent musicians, led by the Musical Director Dan de Cruz. The audience were singing along to the 70s hits from the very 1st song before any of the actors appeared on stage!

The music is the foundation to this story and that been very carefully chosen from the 70s to move the story along and to engage the audience’s heartstrings and teenaged memories. It is a testament to their skill, that they got their own rousing cheer after all the bows had been taken.

The choreography – as expected of Arlene Phillips – was outstanding; very reminiscent of her 1970s dance troupe ‘Hot Gossip’. The dancing ensemble was enthusiastically & ably led by the dance captain Liam Paul Jennings. They, together with the music, generated a huge ‘feel good’ factor through out the show. They all were multi talented, singing and dancing to some very strenuous routines whilst maintaining huge smiles and incorporating some very funny vignettes, whilst not detracting at all from the main actors.

The characters were all excellently cast, and very strong performers. It is very hard to pick ‘stand-out’ performances but the following deserve a special mention:
Michael Hamway (David) for his very assured portrayal, both musically & performance wise.
For their brilliant comedic timing and and over the top yet very credible representations of ‘people we all know’ Lori Haley Fox (Jill) and Bob Harms (Frankie)

If you are over 50, and have weathered the storms of life, retaining your sense of fun, optimism & a sense of the ridiculous, then Jackie the Musical is for you!

Even better if you are young and want to discover just how brilliant the 70s were, then get along to the Opera House before 21st May!


Jackie The Musical is currently showing until the 21st May at The Opera House , Manchester. For more information and to book tickets visit HERE





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