Feelgood musical for all Jackie’s faithful

Janet Dibley, one of the stars of Jackie the Musical
Janet Dibley, one of the stars of Jackie the Musical
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It was the age of loon flares, Biba and Bolan - for Janet Dibley.

She’s the 50something star of Jackie the Musical which opens at the Grand Theatre tonight, five weeks into a 20 week national tour.

The brand new show has taken theatres by storm, and looks like winning as wide a following as Mamma Mia! and other hit musicals that deliver the feel good factor,

And the story line’s considerably better, says Janet, who stars as the central character, at odds with her own life, who looks back wistfully upon her younger self - the Jackie magazine fan.

She explains: “It’s about a woman in her 60s who has lost her way.

“Her children have grown up, her husband is looking elsewhere - and she stumbles over her old Jackie stuff and wonders what happened.

“She hooks up with her teenage self who puts the older woman back on track.

“There’s a decent plot to it, a beautiful story, a hopeful one and a common one. It addresses relationships in general, in a beautiful funny way but there’s pathos too, and it resonates. There’s the nostalgia of going back to a time when you were at your most vibrant. I think audiences go away with rather more than they expected. It’s really uplifting.”

Coming face to face with her younger self has been unnerving for Janet.

“My younger self is played by a girl who could have stepped from Jackie’s pages. She’s the perfect 70s shape. “

Janet has nothing but praise for writer Mike James: “He’s got such an uncanny way of knowing what makes women tick – the hope that they’ve got, even when they are worn down at the edges.

“I have picked up a lot from that myself as a person and more because I’ve got the experience of a 50 something year old woman and we have a lot going on.”

She read Jackie mags herself. “My mum was very canny and would buy them in bulk at jumble sales and we’d get to read them on holidays. There a lot of reading in it. And of course all the lovely cover stars.

“My favourite – or fave as we’d say back then – was Marc Bolan. Great music and he was beautiful.”

Jackie the Musical runs at the Grand until Saturday.