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Here You Come Again review (The Marlowe Theatre)

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Bruce Vilanch, Gabriel Barre and Tricia Paoluccio’s new Dolly Parton musical ‘Here You Come Again’ has sidestepped into Canterbury this week as part of its UK tour, arriving at The Marlowe Theatre for four days. Following multiple successful stagings in the USA, the material has been adapted by British playwright Jonathan Harvey for UK audiences, bringing the energy of Nashville to regional theatres across the country. As a longtime Dolly fan, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the production on opening night here in Canterbury and see how the new jukebox musical would bring to life the artist’s iconic songs and also highlight Dolly’s kindness, warmth and artistry.

Here You Come Again programme outside The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury


The musical takes place in 2020 and focuses on Kevin (Steven Webb), a struggling comic and Dolly Parton superfan, who has had to move back home to his parents’ loft for the COVID-19 lockdown. The protagonist is going through a tough time, with his relationship breaking down and his work drying up. In his isolation, a dazzling Dolly (Tricia Paoluccio) arrives on the scene to help him get through this difficult period, reflecting the real-life icon’s kind nature, with Dolly being known for her generous reading schemes across the USA.

Whilst the show definitely celebrates Dolly’s music and her role as a musical icon, it is refreshing to see the star take a backseat in Kevin’s story. There are so many jukebox musicals out there which share the life and career of a performer and the decision to instead have Dolly act as a guardian angel figure, makes this musical stand out creatively.

Here You Come Again poster at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Balancing storytelling and musical numbers

‘Here You Come Again’ is quite unique in its decision to focus on storytelling and not pack in lots of Dolly’s songs. Instead, each track has been carefully selected to compliment the narrative and Kevin’s personal journey. It leaves ample space for character development and the blossoming of Dolly and Kevin’s friendship.

Here You Come Again set at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

When Tennessee meets Yorkshire

Whilst the musical is set in Yorkshire, the loft space has received a country makeover and is full of Dolly posters, guitars and radiant fairy lights. Paul Wills’ overall layout appears to have taken inspiration from Tennessee architectural design, particularly in the decision to not cover the roof foundations. All of the exposed wood feels akin to Dolly’s home region of the Great Smoky Mountains, with the woodlands and log cabins. When combined with Tim Deiling’s soft lighting design, the staging comes across as simple but elegant, avoiding large extravagant set pieces and instead focusing on the details and overall on-stage ambiance.

For a production that focuses so much on the little things, from a brilliantly-timed script to the warm set design, it is a little surprising to not see more thought taken to the entrances and exits of the supporting performers and band. I understand having the musicians transcend the height of the stage can be slightly challenging between songs, but in places it is a little untidy and can act as a distraction from Kevin and Dolly’s interactions. That being said, the supporting cast and band are so incredibly talented, contributing some exquisite harmonies to the musical numbers. 

Tricia Paoluccio and Steven Webb during the Here You Come Again curtain call at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Cast performances and comedy aspects

Steven Webb and Tricia Paoluccio are sensational as Kevin and Dolly. The pair are such a brilliant match comedically, taking over the Marlowe stage with their captivating stage presence. In collaboration with the supporting performers and band, the stars turn each musical number into a country music party, bringing to life the toe-tapping tunes that have transcended the decades. A highlight is the comedy segments in ‘Jolene’ and ‘Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That’; who’d have thought these renowned songs could be interpreted in such an amusing and joyous way after all these years?

Tricia Paoluccio and Steven Webb during the Here You Come Again finale at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

A refreshing and relatable musical

It is almost unbelievable how much Tricia embodies Dolly. From the infectious laugh to her effortless vocal tone, there is no denying that Tricia becomes Dolly Parton in this production. If you’re a fan of the country icon, definitely grab your cowboy boots and dust off your rhinestones for a delightful evening of Dolly’s hits. Featuring a wonderful LGBTQ+ narrative, a relatable story and just the right proportion of music to dialogue, the show is a refreshing addition to the musical theatre scene. The show is based at the Marlowe Theatre until Saturday 6th July, with last minute tickets available via the theatre’s website.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for Here You Come Again was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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