"The Imperial Wizard of Rock"
by Margaret Morley for remotegoat on 19/03/12

"All the Fun of the Fair" is the title of an Album released by David Essex in 1975 and also the title of his new hit musical, which is on tour and has been showing in London's West End.

The "main attraction" is David Essex, the "Imperial Wizard" of Rock, who wrote the music and lyrics and plays Levi Lee. He graces the stage with his twinkling blue eyes and charisma. The excellent standard of musicianship is combined with a well written play set at a fun fair. Songs include, "All the Fun of the Fair", "Hold me Close", "Rock On", "Gonna Make You A Star" and also "Pretty Thing" which perhaps has not been aired so much, but is a lovely song.

The set design is terrific, there are stalls and cuddly toys and bright lights which is appropriate for a fun fair setting. Especially noteworthy are the lamplight and full moon for the song, "Lamplight", which was simple but effective.

It must be a tremendous challenge for anyone else to sing David Essex's songs, many which he took to No 1 in the British charts, especially with him also sharing the same stage. It was nice to see some of his songs acted out, particularly "If I Could" and the female backing vocals on "Gonna Make You A Star", could be heard clearly and were very refreshing.

I asked Rob Compton (who has trained at the Arts Educational School, London ), "What is it like playing Jack, Levi's son?" and he replied, "Because I've been playing it for so long, it feels like David is my actual Dad."

It was difficult to match up some of the subsidiary actors with their photographs in the programme as there was not another photo of them next to their photo of how they appear in the play. The character Mary in the play, was acted with enthusiasm, but she seemed to be smiling in excess and inappropriately and it was not clear how the character's different accent fitted into the play as all the other actors seemed to be from a London base.

There was a terrific debut appearance from Susan Hall, who has graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Perhaps in her profile in the programme Susan could have stated what she specialised in, in greater detail. My crystal ball tells me that she has a promising future. She demonstrated a good comprehension of the situation, with good facial expression and body movements.

Perhaps a few minor matters could have been dealt with differently; David Essex enters the stage in silhouette and although his hardy fans know it is him, it makes it a bit difficult for them to welcome him until the lights come up. Additionally one needs to think whether it is appropriate for the security guard to be joining in, in the singing of, "Me and My Girl Night Clubbing" along with the disco crowd.

Overall this was a most enjoyable and thrilling afternoon which included swirly lollipops and a whole lot more than that, which epitomised the traditional fairground. "Rock On".

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