Miss Atomic Bomb
St James Theatre
Five years in the making, Miss Atomic Bomb finally explodes on to the stage at St James Theatre for its world premiere. Writers Gabriel Vick, Alex Jackson-Long and Adam Long (also co-director) have created an ingenious storyline based around the bizarre real life events of the United State’s atomic bomb tests of the 1950s.
A time when the mushroom cloud was seen as a tourist attraction and the dangers of radiation were either not fully understood or were being deliberately miscommunicated. People were flocking to Nevada to enjoy all night bomb themed parties, atomic cocktails, and Miss Atomic Bomb beauty pageants. Tourism in Vegas was quite literally, booming.
The plot follows the story of two brothers, Joey & Lou Lubowitz, country girl Candy Johnson, and her ‘fashion designer’ friend, Myrna Ranapapadophilou (Catherine Tate).
Joey (Dean John-Wilson) is one of the US soldiers forced into taking part in the testing, he deserts the army and goes on the run. He ends up being hidden from the military by Candy (Florence Andrews) whose zucchini patch he’s been hiding in. Joey then meets up with his brother, Lou (Simon Lipkin), the assistant manager of a mafia controlled struggling hotel.
Managers failing to bring in the customers are swiftly and permanently dispatched and Lou soon finds himself in charge. With his complimentary soap idea failing to bring in the guests, he needs to come up with ideas quickly if he’s not to go the same was as his predecessor. And so the beauty pageant idea is born.
Meanwhile, Candy has had a visit from the slightly sinister man from the bank, Mr Potts (Daniel Boys), who breaks the news that her recently departed grandmother has left a huge amount of debt that she will have to repay. She eventually flees to Vegas, and ends up entering the Miss Atomic Bomb pageant (suitably glammed up my Myrna) which just happens to have prize money matching the exact amount she owes.
Throw in a chain smoking drag act, some dead sheep, pigs in frocks, and a Russian spy and this crazy story works it’s way through an engaging couple of hours.
I was a little concerned about Catherine Tate’s performance in the first act. An accent that didn’t seem to know where it was from, and a couple of songs that didn’t really suit her voice. But in the second act, it was like seeing a different person, the dodgy accent had settled and we were treated to some fabulous comedy routines (the Sugar Daddy song with Simon Lipkin has to be one of the comedy moments of the year).
Daniel Boys as Mr Potts was superb and deliciously creepy. Some naughty nods to other musicals cropping up every now and again added to the many levels this show works at. Simon Lipkin and Dean John-Wilson (soon to be off to Aladdin) were perfectly cast as the Lubowitz brothers.
Stand out performer in the show was Florence Andrews as Candy. A stunning voice and a believable, solid performance. A brilliant theatrical career ahead for Florence surely?
Some stunning supporting performances and a talented ensemble made this a perfectly cast show. The simple set from Ti Green, worked a treat (many of the scenes relying on a projected backdrop) as did her wondeful costume design. The choreography by Bill Deamer, who is also co-director, works perfectly and brings the show alive with a variety of routines.
The show is packed with a clever mix of tunes; love songs, ballads, rock n roll, and some just ridiculously silly (Where There’s Sheep There’s Hope). Hopefully, there will be a cast revording released as these songs just cry out to be heard again and again. Matthew Brind and Richard John have worked wonders.
This show deserves a transfer, its current four and a bit week run simply isn’t long enough. I’d tried to avoid the predictable line, but go see it …
… ‘you’ll have a blast’
Miss Atomic Bomb runs until 9th April at
St James Theatre
A Tanya Link Production