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Summer Street review at Waterloo East, London – ‘a clumsy musical parody of Australian soap operas’

Myke Cotton and Simon Snashall in Summer Street at Waterloo East Theatre, London. Photo: Simon Snashall
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Andrew Norris’ musical began life in 2004 as a nostalgic pastiche of the Australian soap operas Neighbours and Home and Away, set to the popular music of the period. This sounds like it might have been fun, but the show has evolved into something far less entertaining.

Summer Street, subtitled The Hilarious Soap Opera Musical!, revolves around a fictitious Australian drama that made pop stars out of some of its cast members. Years after the soap was cancelled, its stars are invited back for a reunion episode, but the wily producer secretly plans to rejig the programme for the 21st century.

Again, this isn’t a bad premise. It touches on the transience of fame and changes in taste and tone in daytime drama. The problem is that Norris’ script is painfully short on laughs and the coarse jokes wear thin after a couple of skits. The songs don’t help. Norris’ compositions are lethargic, his lyrics crass and the arrangements unimaginative. An edited version presented at the Brighton Fringe cut five of the musical numbers – this may have been a good thing.

The cast valiantly try to make this musical work, but it’s an uphill struggle. Simon Snashall and Julie Clare gamely snipe at one another as Bruce and Steph, the longest serving members of the cast, while Myke Cotton provides some comic relief as buff stoner Paul. Sarah-Louise Young makes the most of her pastiche ballad Chains Around My Heart, but it’s too little, far too late.

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Verdict
A clumsy musical satire of Australian soaps and the nature of fame
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