Dancing in the Streets is a merry-go-round of a jukebox musical, no stranger to the Empire stage but quite fun all the same. The kind of show that you know will con you into a standing ovation by making you dance for the last fifteen minutes, but is nevertheless entertaining enough you don’t really mind.
There is little by way of plot, as an old janitor character (Ray Shell) comes on stage to warm up the audience, reappearing in snippets as he introduces each act. Not exactly deliberate soundalikes, the performers tend to aim to emulate the style of the soul legends they take on rather than be carbon copies, appearing for a cluster of songs from one artist’s back catalogue at a time. There’s a lot more camp than raw soul power on stage to be sure, but there’s enough sparkling sequins, flirty quips and classic songs to keep the audience very happy.
It’s hits galore as the cast transform into the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Supremes. There’s enough iconic songs that you don’t really notice the ones that don’t make the cut (presumably for licensing reasons) — there’s no Jackson 5, for example.
But ultimately, who cares! Wonder’s Superstition makes an appearance, and that’s alright with me. There was River Deep, Mountain High (such a highlight, there was a reprise), Nowhere to Run, Endless Love, Bernadette, My Girl, Dancing in the Streets and much more.
And it all seemed to have the desired effect; as our Marvin Gaye teased the audience with the act of loosening his tie, the bellows of “GERREMOFF” from certain enamoured ladies were more reminiscent of a Scouse hen night than a steamy Detroit evening, but the spirit of fun was there with an appreciative crowd.
It probably won’t turn out to be the most memorable show you could ever see, but it’s a good time nonetheless.