The only thing connecting the different plot strands in the London premier of this US musical is the theme of tourist attractions in America – something of a test for all but the most ardent Yankophile.
But even if you don’t know your Niagara Falls from your Glacier Bay, Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias’s sweet 2008 show about everyday moments that change our lives will still make sense: the locations are just to act as catalysts for the stories.
Essentially, ‘See Rock City…’ is six mini stories about strangers finding love and friendship, taking a leap of faith and facing fears, each with the backdrop of a well-known US site. In one, skiving schoolboys share a secret kiss in a ghost train on Coney Island; elsewhere in Roswell, a lonely wannabe alien spotter stays out all night in the hope of being beamed up.
The songs are varied and though they take a while to warm up – the best being ‘All There Is To Say’ in the middle – they’re generally pretty snappy in the hands of this mostly strong cast. But the piece does drag a little during, oddly enough, the scene where a bride-to-be contemplates jumping over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The UFO strand, where basically nothing happens, is a little weak too.
Georgia Permutt as Lauren, who accompanies her Grampy while he chats with his dead wife at the Alamo, sings beautifully and lifts the piece when it needs it. Director Graham Hubbard uses only sky coloured boxes to transform the stage into each of the destinations. It keeps things simple and fluid and maintains the energy.
‘See Rock City...’ might not be the musical equivalent of visiting the Grand Canyon, but it’s still worth a look-see.