Jet Set Go!

JEFF CARPENTER soars on wings of camp musical glory.

ADC ADC theatre air hostess cheese CUMTS GAY Jeff Carpenter jet set go! kitsch lateshow Musical parody plane

ADC Theatre, 9th-12th February, 11pm, £5-6

Directed by Florence Carr

[rating: 5/5]

Jet Set Go! is exactly what you think: a musical – about flight attendants.  So yes, it is possibly the gayest thing you will ever, ever see. However, this gorgeously unpretentious show had me and everyone else in the nearly packed auditorium crying with laughter and erupting with applause after every number. It is one of the funniest things around, while still being a showcase for great talent.

The cult show itself is an utter delight, and fits Cambridge perfectly. The music is toned between kitsch pastiche and actually brilliant writing; dripping with campness and puns, it’s still wonderfully paced and you care about every one of the characters. The story follows the crew – pilots, stewards, and stewardesses – aboard a ‘Go Fly’ Airways return flight to New York, and focuses on ‘the other side’ of the plane experience than the audience is used to, revealing the mundane nature of their job and the vulnerabilities of the ever-smiling crew.

Photographs by Chrystal Ding

The show began with us piling into our seats, greeted by flight attendants, the women in particularly revealing uniforms, up and down the aisles. Already in kitsch heaven.  The opening song ‘Welcome Aboard’ sets up the whole show, both in content and style: airy piano runs accompany brief monologues, interspersed with the cheesiest aeroplane-based choreography you could imagine and a rocking pop beat. From here on in we knew where we stood, their tongues surgically implanted into their cheeks – yet with such poise and confidence we could just sit back and piss ourselves laughing.

The acting understandably borders on the hammy, but thanks to sensitive direction by Florence Carr it is always light and pacey, and the whole character of the show just gels. The humour was always bang on target, and I’ll never hear ‘Duty Free?’ the same way again.  The two male flight attendants (gay – obviously), Richard (Martin Kent) and Ryan (Jack Mosedale), have a great sub-plot of ‘gay meets GAYYYYYYY’ that had us cackling and applauding from the very off. They also both get their kit off, and it’s worth buying a ticket just for that (musical) scene. While it’s impossible to pick between the girls, it has to be said that Jessica Jupp’s uber-nervous Melanie was a fantastically judged mix of cutesy pastiche and earnest feeling.

The singing is fab from all concerned. Stand-out songs include Richard’s ‘If I Could Find a Boy’ and the outstanding ‘A Simple Valley Song’ sung by Welsh wench Hayley (Rosie Brown).  Kent’s pop tenor soared through the high notes and sent shivers down my spine, while Brown’s lovely soprano sparkled, all in Welsh, with powerful delivery of the hilarious lyrics. The small band of piano, bass, drums and violin are also to be commended for their tightness and quality of musicianship. Musical directors Oli Rew and Karol Jaworski had clearly worked hard at making the music in the show the stand-out feature. That said, the choreography in the group numbers was also excellent, ranging from cheese to CHEEEEESSSEE but always confidently and excitingly performed.

As you might guess, I love musical theatre – I love kitsch – I love gay – I love parody – and I love lateshows. This show is not for everyone – some people may find the slightly bare set and overbearing cheesiness too much to take. But for me, this is a five-star show because it revels in its own ridiculousness and is so much goddamn fun.