It could be Ken Ludwig’s simple story, which follows Bobby, a banker’s son who just wants to dance, is sent into the Wild West and falls for the only woman in a town of cowboys that just so happens to have a dilapidated theatre in need of saving. We know how it will end, but we are happy to go safely on a musical journey with Bobby and the gang.
It could be the collection of classic Gershwin tracks brought together in one handy show. I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It. You know the ones; the songs that have you tapping your feet in recognition before you realise what’s happening.
It could be the accomplished cast, led by Sean Palmer, whose smooth voice and sparkling grin mark him out as made to play a classic musical leading man. Claire Foster attacks the role of love interest Polly with a hint of Calamity Jane, David Burt is deliciously over the top as theatre owner Bela Zangler and Kim Medcalf comes alive in the fabulously flirtatious Naughty Baby routine.
It most definitely has something to do with Stephen Mear’s choreography, which uses almost every prop available, from telephones to tea trays via human double basses. His company numbers are always a spectacle, though the mirroring routine performed by Palmer and Burt to What Causes That? lives longest in the memory.
It undoubtedly has a lot to do with Peter Mackintosh’s colourful costumes; what they lack in subtlety they make up for in verve.
But I guess full credit for that unavoidable smile – which crept onto my face despite a swift downpour early in the production – should go to director Timothy Sheader. Once again the Regent’s Park Open Air theatre Artistic Director has created a musical that entrances and delights audiences with a classic sensibility without feeling out-dated or old. It is fabulous escapism of the highest order, and that’s something we need more than ever right now.