Vernons Girls

“A toe tapping trip down memory lane”

Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre presents ‘Vernons Girls’- a toe-tapping, nostalgic trip down memory lane that will entertain all those Scouse (and Scouse at heart).

Written by Karen Brown and with direction from Bob Eaten, ‘Vernons Girls’ (no apostrophe necessary) tells the original story of a group of ordinary, young women from Liverpool who traded in a life of checking pools coupons and singing in their works’ choir for one of rock, roll and dreams coming true. It’s the 1950s and the UK music scene is changing forever; rock n roll has travelled over the Atlantic and is paving the way for a multitude of now iconic performers in the form of Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Buddy Holly, to name but a few.

The plot is, at times, somewhat uneven in pace and could be guilty of repetition, but isn’t this something that we’ve come to expect from the Jukebox musicals? Musically, the songs add very little to the overall narrative of the show, although this was rectified slightly in the second half as the girls began to fawn tunefully, and in perfect harmony, over their prospective love interests. Comedic timing was strong throughout which did what it could to compensate for character arcs that lacked development- mainly due to the sheer volume of characters portrayed throughout the evening. A more musically driven narrative structure may have helped with this.

This is all forgiven, though, thanks to the incredibly talented, all female, cast that have breathed life into what could have become a generic ‘rags to riches, climbing the fickle ladder of fame’ pop-group’s biographical musical. As actor-musicians, the entire company tackled multiple roles and utilised every ounce of their talent to transport us back to that era to tell us their story, from their perspective; on their terms.

Themes of equality, gender-roles, sexuality and financial insecurity were explored sensitively but prominently and these stood out vividly against the backdrop of the modern Britain in which we live today. A social commentary that reminded the audience of how far we had come in the last 70 years, but also of just how far we’ve yet to go. Emma Jane Morton shone in what might have been an ensemble role, but her presence captivated the audience and a spontaneous operatic audition was one of the evening’s real highlights. Vocally, Jamie Clarke delivered a crystal-clear performance mixed effortlessly with a gorgeous blend of harmonies from all of the other girls. Musical Direction from Jessica Dives paired brilliantly with Beverly Norris Edmunds’ slick choreography which equated to a spectacle that was very easy on the eye whilst transporting us back to the buzz of the 50s. This was further bolstered by Alfie Heywood’s simple yet effective set design, embellished by Ian Scott’s lighting which heavily relied upon projections without ever feeling laboured

Penned for a theatre that accommodates predominantly scouse-orientated material, the crowd were served exactly what they had come to expect from the venue and giggled along heartily to a plethora of locally-sourced gags. This was an evening made for a generation who worked hard, played hard and found joy in the simple things that life has to offer, and I couldn’t help but leave feeling a little lighter for it.

Vernons Girls runs at the Liverpool's Royal Court until the 8th July 2023.  Tickets available here: Royal Court Theatre | Liverpool's Royal Court (liverpoolsroyalcourt.com)

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Photo credit: Jason Roberts

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