Review: Sparkling Eyes at the ADC, Cambridge
Brought to you by the Stamford Showstoppers, and directed by Nicola Sandall, Sparkling Eyes is a new musical, set in the 1920s and written by writers and musicians local to Stamford and Peterborough. It is on now at the ADC Theatre on Park Street in Cambridge. I attended the performance on Friday, July 29.
Delightfully interspersed with songs and dance routines typical of the period - including tangos, rhumbas and Charlestons - the play tells the story of three English sisters, Flo, Maud and Gloria, who inherit a necklace, The Sparkling Eyes, from their ballerina mother which may or may not have been a gift to her from the Russian Tsar.
The 1929 financial crash has left the eldest sister impoverished, the youngest dealing with a somewhat reliable boyfriend and the stable sister stuck in the middle. Then add in two husbands and a mysterious letter, the sisters are divided and their family bond is put to the test.
It is an entertaining and well-written story - the kind that some might dismiss as ‘old-fashioned’, but for me that more wholesome and playful sense of innocence, coupled with a warm feeling of nostalgia for a time I never knew, makes it all the more enjoyable.
The main actors do an impressive job and are ably supported by a chorus of largely non-speaking characters, some of whom take on more than one role - the two maids cleaning at the start of act two, for example, is a particular highlight.
If ever the pace was in danger of dropping slightly, a song or dance routine would come along, which ensured that the energy level in this all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza was maintained throughout.
Devised during lockdown, the story was penned by Ian Winfrey, while the music and lyrics were written by Ian Winfrey, Jon Graham, Nigel Gibbons, Keith Foley, Fergus Black, Sean Cranitch, Claire Winfrey, Kate Wishart and Douglas Butler.
Some of the songs give you that pleasant feeling of familiarity, that you may have heard it somewhere before (I especially liked it when the three sisters sang and harmonised together) - a testament to the hard work that went into creating them.
There were some lovely costumes too - for the ladies mainly, not so much for the men, but then I guess men in the UK with ordinary jobs in the 1920s probably wouldn’t have dressed like Jay Gatsby!
I can’t remember the last time I saw a new musical, on tour for the first time, from a small, amateur theatre company. Judging by this experience - and providing the story appeals to me - it’s definitely something I should start doing more often.
Catch Sparkling Eyes at the ADC today (Saturday, July 30), at 2.30pm and 7.45pm. For more information, visit adctheatre.com.