Review

It's sexist, it's ageist, it's set in 1966 and it's a jolly good laugh.

The "it" is Rotorua Musical Theatre's latest production 50 & Fabulous. Written by Matamata's Sharon Butterworth this version's setting is quintessentially Rotorua.

There's an Arawa St sign post, and one of only two men (Mike Hastie) in the cast of 13 has come from Britain to work with horses in Ngongotahā.

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In reality the plot could be anywhere in the western world where women are facing the fact they're about to turn, or have just hit, the five-zero milestone.

There are a couple of teenagers tossed into the mix, balanced out by runaway rest home resident Mildred. What a joy to see the redoubtable Val Isherwood in the role.

It's a while since Isherwood's performed at Casa Blanca rather than her more familiar theatre habitat, the Shambles. Whichever her stage she's a sure-fire winner, here she melds seamlessly with the Fabulous 50s line-up.

Those who surround her have back-stories, one's husband is frequently "detained" on business trips, another's has returned after aeons away, leaving as Colin, returning under the persona of Cynthia (Mark Reid).

The 50 & Fabulous cast. Photo / Murray Turner
The 50 & Fabulous cast. Photo / Murray Turner

Flirtatious Just Deserts owner Dusty (Valerie Smith) does her best to convince all and sundry she's a mere 35, that's until the daughter she surrendered for adoption turns up with an adolescent of her own in tow.

Stirring up memories of years past are the perfume-peddling Avon ladies.

Combined, this motley crew's in a lather because The Chicks (anyone around in the 60s will recall what a big deal the Donaldson sisters were, as Suzanne Lynch still is) pull out of their starring role in the musical spectacular the women are planning to prove they're still fabulous.

All this bit of stuff and nonsense is strung together by top hits from the swinging 60s.

Think the Supremes' Where Did Our Love Go, There's A Kind of Hush (Herman's Hermits), Can't Take My Eyes Off You (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) with the Chubby Checker finale's Let's Twist Again and you get the drift.

This is music to dance and sign your heart out to, being 50 is irrelevant.

Full credit to director Shona Clout who's fulfilled the theatre's brief to nurture talent and ignite passion.

The details
WHAT: 50 & Fabulous
WHERE: Casa Blanca Theatre
WHEN: Until July 27
TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.co.nz