Review: Here You Come Again - The New Dolly Parton Musical ★★★★★

Review: Here You Come Again – The New Dolly Parton Musical ★★★★★

As the icon herself, Tricia Paoluccio is a testament to the healing power of Dolly Parton in this unmissable musical tale of resilience

Here You Come Again | Leeds Playhouse until 8 June and then National Tour | From £15

This new Leeds Playhouse musical production of the US-produced two hander (with band and backing singers) was a huge risk, especially with the rather flimsy premise of our gay, Dolly Parton obsessed hero Kevin (Steven Webb) being stuck in an attic after being dumped during COVID lockdown. As the main source of pathos, this is a serviceable set up – but then, lovable Kevin meets an imaginary Dolly who is as real as can be, who builds his confidence to make changes and grow emotionally.

Tricia Paoluccio channels Dolly like a medium channelling a spirit. The voice, particularly when speaking, is unbelievably accurate, and the embodiment of Dolly’s humour and positivity is astounding. She should win every award going for this intelligent and pitch-perfect portrayal. This ain’t no tribute act – this is Dolly as inner voice, guardian angel and spirit guide.

Jukebox musicals are often critiqued for their cynical cashing in, but this feels like more of a genuine understanding of the cult of Dolly, the ultimate, iconic music brand. Some of the song choices are perhaps a little strange (some deep cuts here) but most of the big hits are in there, and the playlist won’t disappoint hardcore fans or Dolly virgins.

Writing by Jonathan Harvey gives great comedy lines to Dolly, and gives direction to Kevin’s energetic performance in a hearty northern gritty way, much like Harvey’s work on Coronation Street.

Direction by Gabriel Barre is tight, but there are maybe too few big moments (hang on for the last section for a major wow) in the set or choreography. The costumes and wigs get progressively better as the show goes on, with a stunning end section in an angelic white theme.

So much better than we dared to dream this Here You Come Again is Dolly divine and will bring joy to your 9 to 5.