Review: LUTG’s Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

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Image courtesy of LUTG

Set in the intergalactic Frottage III, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a science fiction musical set in the cabaret bar Saucy Jack’s, and centres around the mysterious murders of some of its acts.

The story line is simple and easy to follow, but the story is only part of Lancaster University Theatre Group’s latest venture. This production is more of an experience than just a show. From the moment we enter the venue we are involved in the experience; the production team (Lucy Unsworth, Emily Millington and Megan Stephens) offer us glitter, music blares out through the venue (D2) and specially made cocktails are available to purchase. This experience is what made the show so fun. Yes the story is quite simple, but the show is far from boring – think glitter, dancing and lots of clapping and cheers. Even the interval was filled with humour with Mitch Maypole (Thomas Wells) pulling people from the audience to take photos with the characters and keeping the audience entertained and involved with the fun.

If anything is the key to this production, it was fun and entertainment. I don’t think anyone will say it’s the best dancing they’ve seen, but that’s the humour of it and praise must go to Shannon Lenton (Director) and Hannah Creamer (Assistant Director, Dance) for their ability to choreograph routines that contained a wonderful balance of humour and skill, and if anything I think it’s hard to choose a favourite routine from the show! There were a few dance stumbles throughout the show, but the cast rescued these and in such a way that worked for the piece, so that they always remained in character in these moments.

In my opinion the cast’s strength was their work as an ensemble. The collective supported each other and created some wonderful harmonies throughout the piece, and my favourite parts were the songs in which the majority of the cast were involved as the glitz, glam and lights filled the space. This particularly became the case when the Space Vixens (Holly Gudgin, Abi Beaven and Jess Turton) entered the space, covered in flashing lights and signature glitter boots. The three worked well as a group, but also maintained strong individual characters and vocal performances. Beaven particularly impressed in Bunny’s Lament at the beginning of Act II, demonstrating strong vocals and a connection with the audience. The song and Beaven’s performance allowed for a more solemn moment while still allowing jovial ones.

The ensemble’s interaction with the audience also made the piece unique; throughout the songs and dialogue, we were involved. This varied from Viktor Hristov (Saucy Jack) singing directly to me, to Jordan Summerfield (Booby Shevalle) offering table service for drinks. Particular credit must go to Summerfield along with Wells and Naomi Chadambaram (Willy von Whackoff) for their constant awareness of and engagement with the audience; their side remarks and glances in our direction were incredibly funny and added to the enjoyment of the show.

The space was another brilliant part of the experience. D2 is a new venue for LUTG to perform in, and I think it was perfect for this show, as the space was tight and got very hot through the night, but a small price to pay to be in an actual bar for a piece about a cabaret bar. It was also nice to hear at the end of the night (at the after party that audiences of all three nights were invited to) the strong relationship the group had made with the venue and I sincerely hope they stage a piece suitable for the venue again.

Overall LUTG’s production of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens was a lot of fun and definitely a night I enjoyed. It was something different to enjoy in Lancaster, catering both to frequent theatregoers and those who are more inclined to going out for a drink with friends. If you see Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens being produced anywhere I would highly recommend buying a ticket and I have no doubt you will enjoy the night.