I got it right first time. A couple of months ago I went to Liverpool to preview this show and was struck by the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber's two most successful shows (this and Joseph) are both essentially for children.
The story and dramatic development of Starlight doesn't really bear analysis. Childish rubbish wouldn't be too hard a judgment. But if you were at Saturday's hitch-hit matinee with two kids (as I was) you'd also have to agree it's a splendid piece of entertainment. A great time was had by all. Including me. Child's play can be such fun, after all.
The costumes are great, the lighting terrific, the band fabulous, and the performers are universally excellent. As I left I couldn't help but reflect that they'd be back on stage in 90 minutes. That is hard work by anybody's standards, but no one on stage gave anything less than 100 per cent at the matinee.
Effort like this deserved a rather more responsive audience, I must say. In Liverpool - another matinee - there were hundreds of schoolchildren in and they add hugely to the atmosphere by shouting and screaming, panto-style at every possible chance. It took Saturday's reserved Brummies a bit of time to tune in, but they warmed up by the time of thekaraoke-style finale.
One serious criticism over the balance between backing and vocals - the voices need to be further forward in the mix, guys.
The cast of twentysomethings camp the whole thing up eversoslightly - or not so slightly in the case of the brilliant Mykal Rand as Electra the AC/DC train - and the stunt skating is genuinely thrilling.
James Gillan as Rusty and Jane Horn as Pearl make a terrific leading pair and I firmly expect to see more of both of them. The multitalented James really ought to be on television as a solo performer.
There's great vocal style from Anton Stephans as Poppa and oodles of crowd-pleasing character from Tom Kanavan as an Elvisstyled Greaseball while Pearl's coach colleagues, Tanya Robb, Amy Field and Ashley Hale are wonderfully attractive burlesque-style send-ups.
But, in truth, it's a great ensemble effort. Just forget about the nonsense of the book and the anonymous uniformity of the music and enjoy a young cast turning in some wonderful work. Their energy and genuine glamour make for brilliant entertainment value which alone are worth the price of a ticket. And take your kids along. They'll love it.
Running time: two hours. Until September 10.
Box office 0870 730 1234