Top of The Pops: A British Rock Invasion
Mayfield Dinner Theatre in the Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton
Doors at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday brunch, closed Mondays
Tickets, with buffet, $80 to $105.
Through February 1, 2015


The Mayfield Dinner Theatre has truly perfected the art of entertainment.

Don’t expect a pop culture treatise from its just-opened Top of The Pops: A British Rock Invasion.  Just enjoy the (much-improved) buffet, sit back and let an entertaining evening of some 35 British pop songs, plus skits featuring the likes of Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Sherlock Holmes and the crazed Scotsman, to wash over you.

The economics of the Mayfield Theatre have always been a source of wonderment. How does an unsubsidized theatre manage to keep eight very talented musical actors plus a crack five-person band (on stage with the singer-actors all evening) on the payroll for a three-month run?

The answer, of course, is to give the people – a slightly older crowd that can afford the $80 to $105 dinner/show ticket without flinching – what they want.

And what they want are two non-stop hours of music from their youth – songs from The Beatles, Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Lulu, Kinks, Gary Glitter, T-Rex, Bay City Rollers, Pink Floyd, even the Spice Girls and even a few modernists – Amy Winehouse, Adele and Susan Boyle.

The breadth and depth of both band and singer/actors is quite wondrous. It’s a curious thing. The actor/singers are so talented, yet near anonymous as they assume the mannerisms and singing style of the band or star they are impersonating for an average two-minutes-per-song.

Yet only the magical pipes of Mayfield veteran Pamela Gordon (Her rendition of Goldfinger, from the James Bond 007 montage, lives on in my memory), Gerrad Everard as an hilarious, six-foot-something Mick Jagger caricature and Kevin Dabbs as the mad Scotsman really draw attention to individual performances.

Likewise the five instrumentalists are a superb studio band, able to play anything, anytime, anywhere. Yet the only individual impression was of Paul Lamoureux, able to play every wind instrument known to mankind, plus keyboards.

The song list is massive, yet still has to omit so much from the British invasion that started when The Beatles broke the sound barrier with She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. It hasn't stopped since. 

You want songs from your distant youth?  I just tried to keep track of the artists whose songs were sung in this show:  The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Petula Clark, Moody Blues, Tom Jones, Rolling Stones, Donovan, Hollies, Lulu, Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, Tremelos, Dusty Springfield, Zombies, Joe Cocker, The Who, Boy George, David Bowie, Gary Glitter, T-Rex, Pink Floyd, Kiki Dee, Sex Pistols, Van Morrison, Proclaimers, Bay City Rollers, Duffy (the only artist that didn’t ring a memory bell), Amy Winestone, Adele, Susan Boyle, Manfred Mann and Spice Girls.

Where was Rod Stewart, Queen, Led Zepplin? Ah well, you can’t have them all.

The skits are deliberately silly, full of groaners and bad puns but all in good fun, especially Dabbs’ recurring mad Scotsman who rails away at the bloody English during his never-ending search for whiskey.

The show did arouse one cultural thought.  The  British invasion, at least until five or six years ago, has been remarkably short on female singers.  Because the three women, five man cast has to make dozens upon dozens of quick costume changes, the ladies more-or-less alternated tunes with the men on stage. And there wasn’t much material to choose from - tunes from Petula Clark, Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Kiki Dee and that was about it.

Top of the Pops: A British Rock Invasion is the kind of show you can take the whole family to – even elderly grandparents by this point will recognize and maybe even hum Beatles and Tom Jones’ tunes that were popular when they were in their ‘30s. Today’s musically-inclined teens still take an obligatory turn into the pop music renaissance of the late ‘60s.

It’s a fun, relaxing evening of nostalgia, gentle laughes, good music and good food.