★★ | Miss Atomic Bomb
It’s a bomb that goes off during the production of ‘Miss Atomic Bomb.’ It’s not an actual bomb but a stink and sink bomb.
Taking us back to 1950’s Las Vegas, when the city was in its infancy, the US government had began nuclear testing in the Nevada desert, averaging one detonation every three weeks.
During this time Las Vegas became a booming metropolis for gambling, sex, strippers, quickie marriages -and divorces, in part thanks to US government employees earnings which found its way into the town’s casinos and the hotels, among other things. The city of Las Vegas became more popular than ever and proposition renamed itself ‘Atomic City, U.S.A.’
This attracted many tourists who would come to see the mushroom clouds. Pre-blast day all-night parties were held, and so-called Atomic cocktails were drank. So with this came the beauty contest named Miss Atomic Bomb.
The show Miss Atomic Bomb gives us the beauty pageant in the form of one woman’s struggle to save her dead grandmother’s trailer. Candy Johnson (Florence Andrews) lives in said trailer with Myrna Ranapapadophilou (Catherine Tate). But the bank tells Candy that her grandmother actually died with a debt, so the bank man wants to take the trailer to pay off the debt. Myrna hears about a beauty contest in nearby Las Vegas where a Miss Atomic Bomb will be crowned.
They decide that this is where they will get the money to pay off the debt, with no doubt in their mind that Candy will win. But before all this takes place, she meets soldier Joey Lubowitz (Dean John-WIlson), who’s on the run because he left the army.
Joey escapes to his brother’s Lou Lubowitz (Simon Lipkin) hotel, a hotel where Lou is automatically made manager after the local mafia shoots dead the existing manager for not obeying them. Coincidentally enough, the same hotel is where the beauty pageant is going to take place. Throw in a few contestants (one who is a man dressed up as a woman), singing and dancing (worthy of a high school musical) in between scenes, and very poor choreography and what you have is a recipe for disaster.
The music and songs seem to be made for another musical, they just don’t gel with the story. And some of the dancers missed their mark the night I saw the show, plus some of the actors’ American accents leave you trying to guess their origins.
In one scene a mannequin’s head falls off, and not on purpose, but it appears that the mannequin couldn’t take it anymore. And star attraction Tate, who’s been criticised in the press for her American accent for being a bit too Australian-ish, seems to glide in and out of scenes. She gets to show off more in the second half, but by then it’s too late and the predictable ending doesn’t come soon enough.
Andrews as Candy can sing, however she’s way too talented for a show like this. This British production, written by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long, has too many jokes that fail, a script that’s not very good, and choreography that’s just plain awful.
‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ is now playing at St. James Theatre until April 9, 2016 0844 264 2140
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.