If you happened to be listening to a radio in the mid-to late-1980s there was no escaping the sounds of Stock Aitken Waterman.
You knew instantly when one of their records came on.
The trio and their Hit Factory were famous for their driving beats, tinkling instrumentation and soaring melodic hooks that wormed their way into your brain.
At the time, Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman had a tough time from the music press, who never took them seriously.
Yet it was hard to argue with SAW’s ability to create hits for their stable of stars, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Sonia and Sinitta. And the history books show they had more than 100 UK top-40 hits, sold more than 150 million records and earned around £60 million.
Now, almost 40 years later, we can see SAW for what they were: brilliant songwriters and producers whose work has stood the test of time. They knew what audiences wanted and proceeded to give it to them.
So it was inevitable we would get a juke-box musical based on their hits. I Should Be So Lucky – arguably the trio’s most famous song – is that musical. And what’s not to like?
It is a simple romantic comedy set-up: Ella and Nathan are a young couple, helplessly in love, and on the brink of the biggest event in their lives… they’re about to get married. But when Ella is left jilted at the altar, the story whisks us off to Turkey (where they planned to honeymoon) and a very funny, entertaining will-they, won’t-they rom-com story.
The script is by the witty Debbie Isitt, who also directed the show. Isitt was the writer and director of the Nativity! Christmas movies. She brings the same very British humour to I Should Be So Lucky.
In the tradition of juke-box musicals (think Mamma-Mia, We Will Rock You), the plot events and twists are dictated by the titles of the songs.
So, inevitably you get scenes where the characters can sing Never Gonna Give You Up, Better the Devil You Know, Love in the First Degree, Too Many Broken Hearts, Together Forever and the Kylie and Jason classic Especially For You. Oh, and the title song, of course.
The excellent ensemble cast have so much fun with proceedings that it’s very hard to resist the show’s charm.
At the opening night of this world premiere production in Manchester, it was lovely to see Stock Aitken and Waterman get up on stage to take a bow, and the Opera House showed how much it loved the music they created.
If you are looking for something to lift your spirits this November and send you into the festive season with a smile, then look no further than I Should Be So Lucky. It’s no exaggeration to say that the buzz of excitement was tangible when the audience spilled out of the Opera House on to Quay Street.