Licensed To Thrill - Review

Ever wondered what the world would be like if James Bond was played by Elvis Presley? Yeah, I hadn’t either, but that’s the premise behind Licensed To Thrill at The Vanguard, Newtown. Ex-KGB operative Natalia has infiltrated America and is hot on the trail of the hunk of burning love himself … and mayhem ensues. The show is part burlesque, part cabaret and part, er, I’m not entirely sure. The humour struck a refreshing note with its cheeky-bordering-on-bawdy style which earnt a few of those ‘I know I shouldn’t be laughing at this’ reactions from the crowd. Yeah, it’s a bit of a throwback to yesteryear vaudeville, but it feels good to laugh at the irreverence of it all.

The musical numbers include hits from legends such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and of course The King himself; but there’s also some newer hits that people will recognise immediately. It’s the type of music that’s damn near impossible not to sing along to. The vocal stylings were only matched by their dancing counterparts who seemed to take great joy mixing with the audience and sprinkling the room with a hint of titillation.

My only few complaints were that the production design was minimal, the sound quality was a tad off and the overall story of the show needed some slight tweaking; but let’s be honest: you turn up for the big songs and excellent dancers, not the storyline and set decorations.

Keep an eye out for the show’s return to Newtown sometime early this year. The Vanguard is the perfect venue for a production like this: it offers such an intimate experience, allowing the performers to move with ease throughout the seating area, involving the audience in all the fun. For the lovers of big hits that we all know the words to, this is worth catching upon its return.

- Stu

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