Of course it's a silly romantic comedy, of course it's chock full of stereotypes and of course it's as sugar-coated as candy floss, but - gee - it's such good fun that you let all that go and just wallow in two and a half hours of splendid entertainment.
Save The Last Dance For Me (at New Wimbledon Theatre until 9 March 2013) is set in the early 60s just before, as Philip Larkin would have it, sex was invented - "Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three / (which was rather late for me) / Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban / And the Beatles' first LP. "
Also, just before the guilt of saying please, please me disappeared with the release of "Please, Please Me", Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote one iconic pop song after another and it's their superb catalogue that powers this jukebox musical.
Jennifer and Marie are Luton sisters looking for fun on a fortnight's holiday in a Lowestoft caravan - that's how things were then. Curtis and Milton are GIs far from home on a nearby USAF base with money in the pockets of their very fine uniforms and a direct line to Elvis. The girls' heads are turned - and whose wouldn't be - and soon Curtis and Marie are falling in love.
Eschewing the traditional approach casting to big touring musicals, Bill Kenwright forgoes the easy option of a soap star or reality TV fifteen-minute man for the lead roles and is rewarded with some of the best singing I've heard in musicals. Kieran McGinn is a charismatic Curtis and Elizabeth Carter a sweet Marie in their Romeo and Juliet parts, but they are slightly upstaged by both Jay Perry as the Muhammad Ali lookalike sergeant-major figure and the (dare I say?) honey-voiced Lee Honey-Jones as Milton - now there's an actor who really can sing!
And what songs to sing! "Viva Las Vegas", "Little Sister", "Teenager in Love", an acapella "Hushabye" and even "Be My Baby" - (Ronnie Spector's original of which disproves Larkin's contention about sex in less than three minutes). There's plenty more old favourites too, played wonderful well by the cast on guitars, drums and saxophone. These kids really do work for their fame.
You won't leave the theatre much enlightened about the emergence of Britain from post-war austerity, nor much wiser about race relations in the UK and USA (though there's an excellent Norfolk England vs Norfolk Virginia joke) nor too keen to holiday in Lowestoft. But you will leave having been reminded of how glorious pop music can be when played and sung with the energy of youth. And that's no bad thing at all.