Created in Coventry, Godiva Rocks is a new musical featuring the hit songs from Coventry artists throughout the decades, telling a love story with all the twists and turns of two youngsters born and bred in the city during the 1980s.
Featuring artists such as Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Hazel O’Connor, The Specials, Terry Hall, King, The Primitives and The Enemy, the story begins in the Orchid Ballroom back in December 64′ and the narrative constantly switches between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.
As the dubious financier Leo Freeman (Ross Gurney-Randall) decides to knock down the famous Orchid Ballroom in order to redevelop the legendary landmarks with high-rise flats. His daughter Nell fights against him and meets and falls for young lad Patrick Vernon, uncovering many family secrets. With music at the core of the story, the live band feature on stage soundtracking the journey of Patrick and Nell through their love story and the constant conflict with Nell’s family.
Georgie Ashford takes on the role of Nell, born into a wealthy family she rebels against her father Leo who attempts to steer the direction of her life to satisfy himself. Ashford brings charisma and confidence to the role and her vocals have a sweet tone. Her chemistry with Patrick, played by Lejaun Sheppard is warm, and their rollercoaster relationship is engaging. Ross Gurney-Randall’s portrayal of Leo is strong, he plays the dominance of the role superbly, and his wife and former singer Dee played by Madeleine Harland contests his decisions.
The plot itself isn’t particularly straightforward as you find yourself rather lost in the twists, turns and multiple characters. As the audience, I struggled to really get to grips with every character as the narrative moved so fast switching between the 60s and 80s. Writer Alan Pollock manages to get the importance of racial integration in the story, however, it is merely touched on, despite being a huge part of Coventry’s history. The costumes didn’t seem to stick to one era, and the staging looked colourful and striking but transitioned poorly which should have been something that is integrated within the performance instead of breaking it up.
The music is key to the production and the cast highlight the multitude of different music created in Coventry, a particular highlight being the ensemble number Love and Pride featuring an acapella section that is exceptionally sung. Different famous singers from Coventry feature, including Beverley Jones played by Niki Evans. Evans’ voice is sensationally soulful, but I found myself perplexed as to why she had a strong Brummie accent throughout the show. This is something that many of the cast seemed to do and they hadn’t quite managed to pinpoint the Coventry accent in the Midlands.
Lifting the energy of the production was the fantastic fictional trio The Jaguars who bring impressive harmonies and charm, Alexa Mcintosh leads the group flawlessly with her phenomenal vocals. As Nell’s mother Dee reminisces on her days in the 60s with the band, we are transported into the late nights back in the Orchid Ballroom with her old bandmates.
Godiva Rocks is a fun, feel-good musical that celebrates the sound of Coventry. The plot could be more cohesive and accurate, but it’s an enjoyable night at the theatre.
On at the Belgrade Theatre until the 21st of October, tickets can be found here.