Having told you in my last post, how I spent the early part of last Saturday I now move on to let you know how I spent the evening.
Believe me girls this was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had in a very long time and I know I’ll smile every time I think about it.
Right you lot, get your minds cleaned out there was nothing like that involved and if there had been I wouldn’t be sharing it on here.
Seriously though last Saturday night was a truly uplifting experience and I didn’t even need a push up bra to get the power boost it provided. I will however say before you ask that my uplift was of the cultural variety and has nothing to do with anything i may or may not have bought in Anne Summers.
You see I went to the theatre for the last night of a musical about a magazine. This however was no ordinary magazine, this was Jackie, the magazine which was the must read for girls growing up in the 1970’s and for a trans teen as I was at the time this was as close to the bible as I got at the time. So when I heard there was going to be a stage production based on it I decided I simply had to see it.
As soon as I entered you could sense the party like atmosphere which would be such a feature of the evening on a night when over 95 percent of the audience were women and at least 90 percent of them were original Jackie Girls or daughters of Jackie Girls. Believe me this was an audience which wouldn’t just have scared any would be wide boys it would have absolutely terrified them.
Our story starts when Jackie played by former EastEnders star Janet Dibley, is now in her early 50’s and has been recently divorced from John, her husband of 20 years who left her for another women or Gemma the whore as Jackie calls her. As she ponders going back on the dating game for the first time in a generation she decides to seek advice not from her friends not even her best friend Jill but from the pages of her Jackie magazines and annuals.
As she starts her journey to the rest of her life we hear for the first time from the voice of her younger self who tries more often than not in vain to be the voice of her conscience. Like any younger voice she asks how she’s done in life and as the David Cassidy classic Could It Be Forever gets the audience singing along Jackie tells her younger self that yes she did get a house, she did get job, she did get child well a son and of course she did get married. Unfortunately however she is dismayed to learn that she is now going through a divorce
As the hits kept coming there was something for everyone as Jackie girls walked down memory lane to the days when Cathy and Claire solved all our problems from friendship issues to dating dilemmas. From the soft rock of Osmond’s Crwas Horses, to Barry Blue’s feel good classic Dancing On A Saturday Night. Wizard’s See My Baby Jive to that girly favourite from Tina Charles I Love To Love But My Baby Loves To Dance, every song found the audience in good voice it was if we’d all discovered the white tights and mini skirts we hadn’t seen since our 1st year school disco. You know when we kissed a boy and made our secret wedding plans. Thank god there was no facebook in those days as our mother’s may have found out some secrets we really didn’t want them to know.
As the story continues we are introduced not only to Jackie’s ex and his new woman but also to her son David who she wants to go to college but who dreams of being a rock star and teen idol heartthrob. I think someone had been his mum’s old copies of Jackie a bit too much for his own good. Meanwhile as Jackie prepares to get back in circulation John is having to put up with Gemma and her bucket list of things to do before she hits 40 next year and one of her targets is to learn a musical instrument.
It’s at this point in the story that Jackie tried to look up her first crush but didn’t know where to start until she thought Google was bound to know where he was and it did. Jackie however was to put not too fine a point on it gutted when Google pointed out that he was gay.
Undaunted Jackie ventured in to the world of Tinder where after several disappointments she met Max (Nicholas Bailey). At first this looked a match made in Jackie heaven and even tempted Jackie to read through her old copies of her favourite magazine and get advice from Cathy and Claire on how to get and keep a boy or in her case a man.
On meeting her new would be beau Jackie is at least initially smitten. A woman who wants believe in love Jackie is swept away a tidal wave of love and wonders what Cathy and Claire would say to her with regards to keeping him. As the first half of the show comes to an end we left wondering has Jackie found love? and as David Cassidy plays in the background we are asking ourselves the question every woman has asked since the dawn of time Could It Be Forever?
As I queued for the ladies during the break there was a real feel good factor and everyone said how much they were enjoying the show. As woman of the Jackie generation, we chatted on our memories of the songs we had heard and about what Jackie meant to us growing up.
At this I related what it was like to be a trans girl in the 70’s and making sure that I kept my secret stash of Jackie’s under my bed and out of the way of intruders and a woman who was around a similar age to me Donny and The Bay City Rollers being the musical clues said that whilst Jackie was an essential read for her it must have been even more important for me as I would have learned a lot from it on the things I needed to know. Trust me the woman concerned spoke the truth and possibly to a far greater degree than she realised.
As the Second half starts a lovestruck David and his friend Keith are still dreaming of stardom and attempting to write songs based on some of photo stories and problem pages of his mum’s old magazines blissfully unaware that his mum and dad’s relationships are about to fall apart. Well any boy who doesn’t believe that girls of a certain age did and probably still do practice kissing on our posters of Donny or whoever it is we fancy the pants off (In my case I was Donny and Les McKeown of The Bay City Rollers) definitely doesn’t know the inner workings of the female mind. Believe me I swooned as I sang along to Puppy Love and I wasn’t the only one.
As the story progresses it isn’t long before Jackie is given the it’s not you it’s me chat by Max and John blurts out Jackie’s name when he was with his new and soon to be former love of his life Gemma. As everyone’s world’s are turning upside down with the chaos it was significant that the key song during this part of the story was the 10CC hit the things we do for love. though I will admit to tapping my toes to Tiger Feet. At this stage Jill tries console Jackie and says that if she read through her back catalogue of Jackie’s she could get advice from Cathy and Claire on how to deal with break up’s. A despondent Jackie shrugs and with a touch of bitterness not to mention irony says what would Cathy And Claire know about break up’s I bet they were both men. This is all the funnier because in reality the Cathy and Claire columns actually were written by men.
In the show’s next twist we are taken to Frankie’s cafe where a newly single or should that be newly dumped John tries to win Jackie back. This leads to a testosterone tussle with Max who has by now did what most men do and realised his mistake far too late. This time however the only winner is Jackie who decides with a newly found confidence, that she is an independent woman and gives both of them a knock back and to the backdrop of enough is enough declares that it’s time to get on with her life.
As the story ends Jackie is back at her home, packing her boxes and getting ready to move on to wherever life takes her. David reveals that he is going to college and Jill tells him that he’ll get so many girlfriends that he won’t have time to work and with last blast of Could be it forever the story of Jackie is brought to an end.
You know it is fitting that I waited till the final night of the show to see the story of my favourite magazine brought to life.
I say this because as the old saying goes it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and a superb cast made sure that while the music made us think of our teenage dreams Jackie helped make us the women we are and gave us the feel good factor to finish on top of the world. It is my opinion that no magazine or indeed no show can ask for a better ending than that.
Love And Best Wishes