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Pete 'n' Keely


Pete ‘n’ Keely at Tristan Bates Theatre, London

“Don’t worry about the story too much and you’ll be smiling when you leave”

This showing has been running off-Broadway since the start of the century and, having just closed and now touring the US, it is finally having its European premiere here in London.

It is 1968 in the US. Pete and Keely used to be stars, even marrying and then having the showbiz divorce. A sponsor has brought them back together for a one-off television special, in which they retell their lives through songs of the period. We see them meet, fall in love and cope with fame. Then we watch as it frays and falls apart. They suffer and argue in front of us, performing for the camera with fake smiles.

[Katie Kerr as Keely]

The stars are obviously the cast - David Bardsley (Pete) and Katie Kerr (Keely). This two-hander has them singing throughout the evening in a variety of styles, sometimes solo. For me, Kerr’s rendition of Black Coffee stealing the show. Both are vocally stunning and perform with just the right amount of subtlety. The whole thing is cheesy, just like the music, the style, the props.

[David Bardsley as Pete]

Perhaps a little rough round the edges at times and a little short of peril at the end, but it is comforting to be in the presence of two very confident performers, backed up with the solid musical direction of James Cleeve (keyboards), Doug Grannell (bass) and Richard Burden (percussion).

Matthew Gould’s direction is inventive and fun and, with the cast and crew, manages to squeeze every drop of humour from the scenario. A shame, that fundamentally, the play itself does not stand up to the task, flawed at the end as it is.

[Katie with David]

Emily Bestow’s stage design is hilarious, though. Camp, colourful and just right for the shenanigans that unfold: large discs of flower-power colour that hang from the ceiling.

This show, running under two hours (with intervall), is a joy to behold. Like watching a couple of master entertainers look back on their careers, taking us along for the ride. Don’t worry about the story too much and you’ll be smiling when you leave.

[Katie and David - in Cairo!]

Book: James Hindman

Original Music: Patrick Brady

Original Lyrics: Mark Waldrop and Patrick S Brady

Producer: Wallflower Theatrical

Director: Matthew Gould

Musical Director: James Cleeve

Show details and booking:

Performances: Running until 20th May. Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

Wednesday and Saturday Matinees at 2.30pm.

Performances Length: 2 hours (this includes an interval)

Photographs: The Other Richard

Facebook: /PetenKeely

Twitter: @PetenKeely, @Wallflower_UK

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