One of my summer goals was to see four shows. I’m three weeks into my seven week break, and I’ve now seen three shows so I’m pretty chuffed with my work. I also have three more scheduled, although I probably won’t manage any more than that (although I will definitely try). I’m talking about the shows I’ve seen all out of order though, as I want to share my opinions on the shows that are closing the soonest first. This means that first up is the most recent show that I’ve seen: Yank! A WWII Love Story at The Charing Cross Theatre.
Yank! is a musical sharing the tale of Stu (Scott Hunter), an 18 year old midwestern boy drafted into the army who is also struggling with his sexuality. He ends up working for ‘Yank’, a magazine produced for the servicemen away from home, as ‘men like him don’t survive the front like’ and discovers the hidden side of the war. Yank! exposes how men and women explored their sexuality during the war effort, and also what would happen if their ‘perversions’ were exposed. And it truly shows what people had to give up for love, and the struggles that were faced only 70 years ago.
I was sat in the slips on a bench, which is angled like a box, and it was definitely a cheap seat. The seat I was sat on a ripped up cushion and I missed a good chunk of the stage (missing all of the upstage right and much of the upstage centre action) so I hope nothing essential happened there because I would be none the wiser. Fortunately a lot of the key scenes happened on the apron and centre stage, meaning I don’t think I missed anything too critical. I do have to say that the seats weren’t particularly cheap for this, as I paid £21.50 compared to bigger theatres where I’ve paid less and had a far better view. And we all know I’m a sucker for a bargain theatre ticket.
Having transferred from the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, most of the cast have been in these roles for a couple of months now, but the real standout vocal performer for me was Andy Coxon. Coxon joined the company in its London transfer, and plays the role of Mitch, the man Stu falls in love with during basic training. After being separated, they find themselves back together and making plans for their future. Coxon’s rendition of the opening number, Rememb’ring You, was one of the most vocally sound performances I’ve heard on stage in quite some time and I was truly blown away.
My personal favourite number was Click; the song performed by Artie (Chris Kiely) to share the secrets of what servicemen had been getting up to through the war. I love a good tap number, and when I spotted the taps on Kiely’s feet I was excited. I’m a big fan of The Book Of Mormon (which I will actually have a post on in a couple of weeks as that was the first show I saw on my break) and I never thought I’d see a gayer tap number than Turn It Off, but I was proven wrong with Click. The choreography was wonderful and I just really enjoyed watching it.
Through all the jokes and the fun musical numbers, there was an important message about love. Yank! may be a story about the war effort, but first and foremost it is a love story. What have you really had to give up; what have you really have to risk just to be in love? Because these veterans risked a lot.
If you fancy a trip to see Yank! you’ve got to be quick as it closes in just two weeks (I really need to stop seeing shows as they come to the end of their run). You can check out the trailer here; maybe grab a ticket and pop by at some point if you want a fun watch with a very important message.