Review: Formby, The Riverfront, Newport

Ewan Wardrop’s much praised tribute show to entertainer George Formby played the final date of its current tour at Newport Riverfront on Friday evening.

From the very young to the most senior in years, the show raised smiles from the offset as actor/ dancer/ comedian Ewan Wardrop delivered a charismatically choreographed one-man show performance of Formby’s life and times.

Based on George Formby’s home truths appearance on the BBC’s Friday Show in late 1960, Ewan retold the entertainer’s life and times through song, dance and interpretations of George, his parents and his wife Beryl.

The simplistic set with chair, table, lamp and phone were utilised to full capacity as cleverly structured spotlight cues and sound effects allowed Ewan to change character, roles and scenes. One highlight demonstrating Ewan’s brilliance was a sequence in which Formby learned to play his fast ukulele style while mirroring Beryl’s clog dance moves with his fingers.

Ewan Wardrop toured  Formby  during the Spring of 2014.Ewan Wardrop toured  Formby  during the Spring of 2014.

Ewan Wardrop toured Formby during the Spring of 2014.

Peppered with a soundtrack of Formby favourites including When I’m Cleaning Window’s, Mr Wu’s Chinese laundry Blues and Leaning on A lamp post, Formby delighted all in attendance.

As an encore, Ewan stepped out to allow Ben, a member of the audience to have a moment of glory by playing the ukulele and perform one final favourite Auntie Maggie’s Remedy.

Formby has now ended its run, but I hope at least one performance of the talented Ewan Wardrop recreating the magic and comedy of George Formby for stage may at least have been immortalised for a future DVD release, as this show certainly deserves much wider acclaim.

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