Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens: Unabashed, Unashamed, Unquestioned—and Sexy—Fun Set to a Disco Beat
What do you get when you combine the interplanetary funksmanship of Parliament, the fluid and overt sexuality of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the bell-bottom-infused passion for disco of Saturday Night Fever? You get the over two hours of ribald revelry and energetic entertainment of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens.
Listen, this isn’t Shakespeare. It’s not high art. But it’s unabashed, unashamed, and unquestioned fun. It’s a musical that will have you moving to the beat and—for a select few—even dancing up out of your seat.
The story? Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a story of love, murder, betrayal, duty, respect, and, of course, disco and glitter boots. The story takes place in a bar on planet Frottage III called Saucy Jack’s. It seems performers keep finding themselves murdered, all by slingback-force trauma. The Space Vixens, a trio of intergalactic police arrive to solve the crimes. And each of the bar’s regulars has his or her own story to tell—and dreams to realize.
It’s campy, sexy, and hilarious.
The entire cast is spot on. The singing is magnificent, from the soloists to the harmonies. And while there are honestly no weak parts of the cast, there are a few people who need to be recognized.
Stephen Ingram, in the titular role, has become a must-see performer in London. In the past year alone, he has made an otherwise abhorrent production tolerable by the strength of his performance (Manuel); he has stood out in a strong ensemble production (The History Boys); and now he continues to show the strength and power of not just his voice, but his very presence in Saucy Jack.
Alicia D’Ariano stood out last year as one of the Heathers in the play of the same name. In Saucy Jack, as lead Space Vixen Jubilee Climax, she takes command of the role—both through singing and acting—and brings a mixture of sensitivity and power to a woman torn between love and duty.
And can we take a moment to appreciate the force of nature that is Jenn Marino. In another tour de force performance—much like as Magenta in Rocky Horror—Marino stole every scene in which she appeared. Continuing the Rocky Horror parallel, Marino’s entry is reminiscent of Meatloaf’s both in terms of bravado and vocal power.
But it almost feels unfair to not recognize the other actors. Everyone in the cast had their moment to shine. Nicola Klein hit some beautiful high notes and showed incredible vocal power; Tatyana Austrie more than held her own in a passionate duet with Marino and had a wonderful moment of sadness; Sam McEwan not only won over the hearts of us ’80s kids with a fantastic Careless Whisper sax solo, but he effectively developed his character and kept the story progressing, even during the intermission, through his interaction with the crowd; Connor Boa and John White had a hilarious—and revealing—scene in the second act; Rick Kish brings an entertaining combination of heart and humour to his role of Booby Shevalle; and Isabella Majewska, Margaret Martin, Jesslyn Hodgson, and Elle Hounse all provided pitch-perfect background support and movement. Hodgson, in particular, drew applause for some inspired and athletic pole dancing.
The location is inspired: a play about a bar, taking place in a bar. From custom-named drinks to neon coaster marks on the tables, everything is near letter-perfect in design. Even the use of A/V contributes to the sense that we are not just watching a play, but rather patrons of Saucy Jack’s, with a front-row seat to the shenanigans.
Is it perfect? No. Although the bar venue adds much to the production, it can also make it challenging to see everything—and, trust me, you want to see everything. Performers intermingle with the audience,including clever use of socializing both before the play starts and during the intermission; songs and dances take cast members all around the bar. Some dance numbers have three points of interest, which forces the viewer to pick and choose. For those with mobility issues, it may be better to sit towards the back of the venue to ensure you see everything. If you’re up front, be prepared to have your head on a swivel.
Is this a play that everyone’s going to love? No. It’s clearly one that’s intended for those who enjoy a little levity in their productions, don’t mind a healthy dose of raunch, and are willing to laugh along with the cast. Like I said, it’s not Shakespeare, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a production featuring talented singers and performers that will have you clapping your hands, tapping your toes, and walking out with a huge smile on your face.