Image: Linda Lusardi
There is no doubt that attaching the legendary name of David Hasselhoff to a show will immediately get it off to a good start. There are at least three things that people associate with ‘The Hoff’, and that’s the beach, the early nineties and a really good helping of cheese. There are all of these aplenty in this production, which sees Hasselhoff play a somewhat hedonistic but ageing Ibiza club owner and DJ whose estranged teenage daughter comes to visit from Wales. She finds herself embroiled in the drugs scene in her father’s club, and in a romance with the holiday rep who moonlights as an up-and-coming DJ working for her dad.
It’s a simple enough storyline but is a little contrived. From Jon Conway, the creator of the successful hot musical Boogie Nights, which inspired a flurry of similarly popular Juke Box musicals, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is peppered throughout with hits from the 80s and 90s. Although it could be said that some of the songs are shoehorned rather uncomfortably into the story, this is perhaps done with Conway’s tongue decisively lodged in his cheek. Boogie Nights starred and was co-written by Shane Richie, and although this production lacks his particular version of the cheeky chappy, it is good to see his son stepping up.
Shane Richie Jr, as holiday rep Rik, is not as relaxed an actor as his dad. His performance could even be described as wooden in the show’s early scenes, but his vocal performance is both pleasing and entertaining. As ageing club owner Ross, the equally ageing Hasselhoff was a little stiff at this performance, but physically rather than in terms of his acting. This was perhaps due to a knee injury, but it was a little uncomfortable watching him at times because he looked as if he was in pain. He does, however, deliver the requisite amount of cheese, and the legendary way in which he parodies himself makes many of the scenes delightfully memorable.
Stephanie Webber, who found fame on The Voice, plays Ross’ daughter Penny, who hasn’t seen her father for three years. Her vocals are faultless, and she makes a very good stand-in for Pamela Anderson in a Baywatch scene that doesn’t really fit into the plot but is highly entertaining nonetheless. Kim Tiddy (The Bill, Hollyoaks) is another recognisable face, competing with Penny for Ross’ attention as the DJ’s much younger girlfriend, Mandy.
The real star, however, is not found in any of the recognisable names in the show, but in Tam Ryan who plays Spanish barman Jose. Ryan has the comedy accent, perfect timing and enduring appeal of the similarly hilarious Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers, but this is no Manuel impression. His character makes the show uproariously entertaining and no doubt leaves audiences wanting to see him again.
More successes of the show are the lighting and audio visual effects, with giant screens showing flashbacks of Knight Rider as the backdrop to a hilarious fight scene, and tweets from delighted audience members, happy to see their selfies projected onto the screen during the interval in what must be said is a brilliant PR move.
It is sad to say, therefore, that the dialogue is about as old at the music, and the storyline is suspended somewhere between a pantomime and an old performance of the Royal Variety Show. Despite all of this, however, the show is both entertaining and gloriously tacky, and by the curtain call the audience is left reflecting on a really fun night.
Three and a half stars
I saw Last Night a DJ Saved My Life at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton on 7th November 2015
Originally written for http://www.thereviewshub.com and reproduced here with their permission