Our king of rock 'n roll is better than any panto!




SOME folk will tell you that Christmas isn't Christmas without a bit of Cliff Richard. Not so convinced about the festive delights of Mistletoe And Wine or The Millennium Prayer?

This neat stage production of The Young Ones, an all-singing, all-dancing film vehicle from 1961, might make: the Cliff scrooges reconsider. Love Cliff or hate Cliff, this show is better than any panto that you might be thinking about taking the family to this year.

When Elvis started making movies, Cliff, apparently being the British answer to Presley, started doing the same. We all remember the big red bus of Summer Holiday, but The Young Ones is a little less known, maybe because the songs aren't as good.

The plot is also as thin as you might expect a film vehicle to be: kids running around shouting "let's save the youth club, hey, why don't we put on a show", overcoming adversity by convincing an old fogey property tycoon that singng and dancing is more fun than building

clever editing of the script and punching in a few Cliff songs that weren't in the film.

Jason Langley excels as a Cliff-a-like in the lead role of Nicky Black, even if he did confess that he hadn't seen the original film until the auditions. His endearing rendition of When The Girl In Your Arms will stick in the memory. Look out too for Richard Foster-King revelling in the role of Ernest, the customary geek character, and Emily Eden who almost steals the show as his equally "square" girlfriend, Wendy.

Credit also to Racky Plews for imaginative direction and choreography which livens up some of the original padding. There were some old ones enjoying The Young Ones on Tuesday night I spotted former BBC news-reader Richard Baker, who has a special cameo in the show, also looking like he was having fun. Teddy Green, who was in the original film, was also toe-tapping in the back row. The cast couldn't have wished for a more fitting commendation unless Cliff had turned up himself.

office blocks. Charming. But what we are really here to see are some ace dance routines (check, this show's got them),
a few jokes (check) and some knockout musical numbers (check, check, check). Where the original material is lightweight in patches John Plews saves the day with some
The Young Ones

Once again Upstairs at the Gatehouse has produced an energetic, youthful production without a hint of Christmas about it.

Performed on Mike Lees’ multi-coloured set, John Plews’ script retains the, shall we say, charm of the original Cliff Richard movie. Daughter Racky Plews directs with energy and gets her cast to camp up an already pretty camp show. They just about get away with it. Richard Foster-King as the brainy legal clerk Ernest and Amy O’Neill as French singer Dorinda Morell occasionally tip the balance, over-acting their parts, but it somehow fits within the ridiculous nature of the show. O’Neill stands out as a dancer in the piece as does Foster-King for being, well, himself. A man with a career as a comedy ‘posh’ character actor lies ahead. At first Jason Langley in the Cliff Richard role of Nicky understates his part, but along with Kay Milbourne as his girlfriend Toni, he finds his level and creates a sane counterpoint for the audience among the madness. Milbourne has an air of maturity about her and gives the best vocal performance on No One for Me But Nicky.

Racky Plews’ choreography is big and bold and suits the show well, although a highlight is Stewart Nicholls’ guest choreography on the big number We’ve Got a Show - so inventive.

It’s a camp Christmas Upstairs at the Gatehouse from another young, well-chosen cast.

By Jeremy Austin


Okay, so it’s that time of year again when everywhere, or almost everywhere you look, a panto of some description or another is beckoning. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, from time in memoriam, have bucked the trend as far as traditional Christmas fayre is concerned and plumped for the musical.

This year, The Young Ones (original screenplay by Peter Myers and Ronnie Cass) plays until the end of January. A vehicle for the then pop star Cliff Richard, it tells the tale of a group of youngsters, threatened with the closure of their youth club by a property developer. John Plews adaptation of the screenplay, coupled with his daughter’s direction and choreography has produced a superb piece of entertainment that is as slick and polished a piece as you’ll see anywhere in London. Upstairs at the Gatehouse has built up a deservedly faithful following with their musicals over the years, but this has to be their most outstanding to date. Racky Plews’ direction and choreography has delivered a production that is so proficient that not taking it out to the provinces on tour would be criminal!

The adroit cast sang and danced their way though a show that was an exuberant example of what first class fringe theatre is all about. A wonderfully fast and furious musical that should have you tapping your toes from start to finish and certainly not to be missed!

Dale Maitland Cartwright
December 2007

STAGE By Mark Shenton


Upstairs At The Gatehouse,

London N6

(Tickets: 020 8340 3488; £12 - £15)

Like Hairspray, The Young Ones also turns the clock back to the Sixties as Highgate's enterprising Upstairs at the Gatehouse brings the 1961 Cliff Richard movie to the stage. Its story of a youth club threatened by a skyscraper development raises the stakes on this peppy pop nostalgia fest, and the youthfully appealing cast of Racky Plews' production, smartly designed by Mike Lees, add considerable zest.

A nostaslgic touch of the Cliff Richards from Jason Langley in
The Young Ones at Highgate's Upstairs at the Gatehouse


Original screenplay by Peter Myers and Ronnie Cass. Screenplay adapted by John Plews

What d'you know, we got a show! Based on the 1961 Cliff Richard and The Shadows movie of the same name, about a group of youths trying to save their club from redevelopment into one of those tragic 1960’s concrete offices which London is still lumbered with today, The Gatehouse’s Young Ones is a welcome new alternative entry into this festive seasons offerings, while remaining steadfastly unseasonal.

Director Racky Plews, indeed all the Plews, have produced a refreshingly fun alternative to the more traditional offerings and The Gatehouse, a little off the beaten track, is always worth searching out for a wonderful evening of fringe musical theatre par excellence.

The Young Ones, set in the early sixties, manages to keep the naiveté and freshness of a period, newly swinging and unsullied by what was to come, and this immediately comes through in the energy of the opening scenes with some memorably distinctive, epoch defining choreography and a fine young cast, all on a kaleidoscopic set of seemingly shifting, swinging cupboard doors!

Playing Nicky, Cliff Richard's movie role, Jason Langley achieves reluctant teen heart throb as the “mystery voice” who creates a stir on pirate radio, with essential musical vitality. With “The Young Ones”, “When The Girl” and “Living Doll”, Jason gets all the numbers that for good or bad helped establish Sir Cliff into the history of great British music and capably rises to these challenges.

Fine, fun performances fill this show from edge to edge. Notably Seamus Newham’s property developer, and Nicky’s father, Hamilton Black is great straight comedy value and Amy O’Neill is a delight as the wonderfully overacted diva, Dorinda.

With it’s tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek, The Young Ones never takes itself too seriously and as a light hearted, sixties musical escape it certainly is an alternative, holiday period joy.

Review: Geoff Ambler 18 December 2007.


The London premiere of an exciting new theatre adaptation of the classic 1961 movie. A great family show for all those rock and roll rebels looking for an alternative to the annual thigh-slappery of traditional pantomime.

Our reviewer says, "Once again Upstairs at the Gatehouse comes up trumps with its new Christmas show - The Young Ones. A young, enthusiastic cast, all clearly possessing that elusive, much-sought, X-Factor, breathe infectious fun into this reworking of the classic 60's film, that was originally a vehicle for Cliff Richard.

Stepping into the Cliff's winkle-picker shoes, Jason Langley (Nicky) smoulders, pouts, curls his lip and swivels his hips with the best of them. He also sings with great range and sensitivity, whether it is rocking and rolling in the ensemble pieces or crooning a ballad like ‘When The Girl in Your Arms’, which even drew a few screams from the appreciative girls in the audience.

John Plews, who has adapted the original film script for the stage, has also managed to create a true ensemble piece where every member of this fit cast has a chance to shine, ensuring this is no longer a one-star vehicle. Special mention must go to Richard Foster-King (Ernest) and Kris Milnes (Jimmy) who give comic bravura performances and are infinitely watchable.

Racky Plews, director and choreographer, manages the entire production with skill, clear understanding for the period and due reverence for the piece. In the tradition of the simple plot premise of 'let's put on a show', she succeeds in spades.

This is a show with legs, sing-along appeal - amply demonstrated with Livin' Doll - and hopefully a future.

Definitely an excursion worth taking for the young ones - and older ones too!