The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings

A CurtainUp NJ Review
My Very Own British Invasion
And in 1964, we made our move. Not with soldiers and muskets - this time we did it with music. — Peter
My Very Own British Invasion
Jonny Amies (Photo credit: Jerry Dalia)

One has to assume that the genre known as the juke-box musical is far from having run its course by itssheer proliferation. Looking at the titles of the more than two dozen songs listed in the program that make up the musical portion of My Very Own British Invasion makes it clear that this new entertainment is all about the impact made by young British rock musicians in the 1960s.

There is a story line that weaves through the show. However deficient in depth or insight the text is regarding its characters and their journey, writer Rick Elice ( Jersey Boys, The Cher Show ) has, nevertheless, contributed a mostly reasonable bridge for quite a few fondly recalled hits of what they are calling a musical fable. It focuses on the early career of Peter Noone, better known as the front man for the 1960s rock group Herman's Hermits.

Now in its world premiere engagement at the Paper Mill Playhouse, this frisky and fast-paced musical, under the direction of Jerry Mitchell takes a largely imagined perspective of the pop icon's early years, actually still not old enough to drink in a pub. Befriended by John Lennon of the Beatles he gains admittance to the popular hangout for 1960s rockers The Bag O'Nails in London's Soho District. It is there that the show is set and where Peter makes contact with other more flashy and formidable soon-to-be famous rockers.

As staged and choreographed with break-neck efficacy by Mitchell, little time is wasted with such concerns as historical or biographical accuracy or even with the conventional hyperbole that often fills this kind of show.

To the show's credit is Peter its leading character as played by a terrific Jonny Amies. This young Britisher making his professional stage debut doesn't appear to be much older himself than the 16 year-old he is portraying in 1964. Not having a particularly imposing figure, Amies is however immediately ingratiating and has more than enough musical talent to hold his own in number after number— particularly in contrast with his romantic rival Trip (Conor Ryan), a fearsomely flamboyant performer loosely based on Mick Jagger.

What there is of a plot concerns young Peter's obsessive infatuation with the very pretty singer Pamela (Erika Olson) whose character is loosely based on Marianne Faithful. The tug of war between Peter and Trip continues as the conflicted Pamela vacillates between lovers and drugs for a couple of years and over two acts that cover the period 1964 to 1966. Through it all, Peter is lucky to have the protective insights of his loud-mouthed, tough-skinned Mum (Jen Perry).

There are standout supporting roles that include the show's most outstanding voice Kyle Taylor Parker as American singer Geno, John Sanders as Fallon the controlling manager and Daniel Steward Sherman as Hammer a thugg.

As the handsome unit setting designed by David Rockwell, impressively evokes the up and down reaches of The Bag O'Nails, we are lifted out of it to various locations in London and abroad by the excellent projections of designer Andrew Lazarow. Within it we enjoy the musicianship and the exhibitionism of such luminaries of the time as the four Beatles, manager Brian Epstein, TV host Ed Sullivan, and fashionista Mary Quaint.

The dancers as clubbers mingle among the musicians with their guitars and expertly back-up any performer who takes center stage. Musical highlights are not limited to the Herman Hermits songbook that highlights such staples as "I'm Into Something Good," and "There's a Kind of Hush," and more.

Because none of the songs or their presentations are either mood-creating or character-defining, what can be said for them is that they are singularly rousing and afford us the pleasure of being interpreted by a company of very fine young troopers. Out of the lot, I enjoyed most being impressed by the full company revisiting "Oh! What a Lovely War," also Peter's solos "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," that wonderfully goofy "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am" and also Trip's close to show-stopper "Don't Let Me Be Understood."

The ensemble work is as plentiful as it is exuberant and give pro support to an eclectic songbook of hits by The Animals, Rolling Stones and others. Designer Gregg Barnes appears to have had loads of fun creating the era-perfect attire, many good for a laugh. Closer and more insightful attention to the book would greatly improve its changes if a move to Broadway is contemplatedk,k which, of course, it is.

No matter that you won't be overly concerned whether Peter Noone gets the girl, it's comforting nonetheless to realize that he has a bright future. That's for sure, as I spotted him looking much too young for his years sitting just a few rows in front of me on opening night.

Search CurtainUp in the box below Back to Curtainup Main Page

My Very Own British Invasion
Book by Rick Elice (based on an idea by Peter Noone) Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Cast: Principals: Jonny Amies (Peter Noone), Erika Olson (Pamela), Conor Ryan (Trip), Jen Perry (Peter's Mum), Kyle Taylor Parker (Geno), John Sanders (Fallon) Daniel Steward Sherman (Hammer)
Scenic Design: David Rockwell
Costume Designer: Gregg Barnes
Lighting Designer: Kenneth Posner
Sound Designer: Andrew Keister
Projection Design: Andrew Lazarow
Hair & Wig Design: Josh Marquette
Orchestrations: Francisco Centeno, Clint De Ganon, Lon Hoyt, John Putnam
Production Stage Manager: Tripp Phillips
Music Supervision & Arrangements: Lon Hoyt
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes including intermission
Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, N.J.
Performances: Wednesdays at 7:30 pm; Thursdays at 1:30 and 7:30; Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 1:30 and 8 pm; Sundays at 1:30 and 7 pm
From 01/31/19 Opened 02/10/19 Ends 03/03/19
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 02/10/19

NJ Theaters
NJ Theatre Alliance
Discount Tix Information

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of My Own British Invasion
  • I disagree with the review of My Own British Invasion
  • The review made me eager to see My Own British Invasion
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted at to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter

©Copyright 2018, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from