Come on people! Gird up your loins! Strap yourself in! Prepare for whisk-off! And get ready to warp into a time zone of fascination, fun and fantasy.
Yes, we’re going back and looking forward and were straddling the space-time continuum like there… actually… is a tomorrow!
Back To The Future – The Musical is a sensory delight from start to finish. There are special effects galore, there’s enough lighting to power a small city, there’s a sound system turned up to way above eleven and there’s memorable music, stylish choreography and gigawatt-level performances.
But with great respect to the wonderful actors, dancers and musicians it’s a major prop, the DeLorean, that is the star of the show. It grabs you by the throttle, it hits you in the feels, it takes you on the trip of a lifetime and deposits you in a time-zone that you never thought you would experience.
And I have a sneaky feeling that this petrol/plutonium/lightning-driven pleasure machine is going to outlive, in this show, the internal combustion engines that clog up our roads. I’d love to tell you about the end and what
happens to this magical masterpiece of vehicular stage technology… but that would be a spoiler so you’ll have to go see it for yourselves.
But, people, I will venture one spoiler if you’ll indulge me: there’s bubbles! Yes, real live bubbles emanating from bubble machines on each side of the auditorium and if, like me, you’re a sucker for bubbles then this isn’t just your show it’s a bubble-bath of electric dreams.
Marty McFly (Olly Dobson) and Doc Brown (Roger Bart) are the two central characters that drive the non-stop action forward with pace and alacrity. They’re a great double act and have completely bought into the we-know-its-a-fantasy-but-we’re-treating-it-like-reality concept. Dobson engages us immediately with his cheeky-chappy, cool-but-flustered, teenage angst-less, reluctant time-traveller and it has to be said that it’s very hard to believe that he is the son of the scatterbrained, gauche, embarrassment-on-legs George McFly – played with discombobulated aplomb by Hugh Coles. Bart, as the Doc, is funny, weird, panicky and semi-profound – sometimes all at once. He keeps us amused with his mad-inventor shtick alongside occasional knowing side-eyes to draw us into his crazy world.
These two are enthusiastically supported by the rest of the cast, led by Rosanna Hyland as Lorraine who gives us full-frontal ’fifties chic tinged with a smattering of 21st-century girl-power for good measure: a lively performance. We always love a bully who gets his comeuppance and Aidan Cutler is all you want from Biff who gets biffed.
It might have seemed difficult to jemmy some great dance numbers into a show based on a classic, much-loved film – but not at all. The clever concept of morphing a real-life scene into a Busby Berkeley-esque sub-conscious fantasy routine works magnificently and the dance sequences by this excellent troupe are worth the ticket money alone. Choreography is by Chris Bailey.
And there are some great songs. Lurching from stalls-shaking rockers – The Power of Love, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode – to reflective ballads: For The Dreamers is particularly evocative.
Aside from the DeLorean Tim Haley’s design is dazzling with slick and clever scene movements in front of backdrops projecting illuminated wall-scapes of microchips and semiconductors and Musical Director Jim Henson helps to keep up the cracking pace with a punchy 14-piece band. John Rando’s direction is a smart, sassy, thrills ’n’ spills state-of-the-art kaleidoscope, giving us a show that is fun for all generations.
And that’s the essence of the show: fun. Fun with a capital Flux Capacitor.
So if you want your gob to be well and truly smacked – go ride the DeLorean!
Review by Peter Yates
BACK TO THE FUTURE The Musical stars Roger Bart and Olly Dobson as ‘Dr Emmett Brown’ and ‘Marty McFly’ respectively with Hugh Coles as ‘George McFly’, Rosanna Hyland as ‘Lorraine Baines’, Cedric Neal as ‘Goldie Wilson’, Aidan Cutler as ‘Biff Tannen’, Courtney-Mae Briggs as ‘Jennifer Parker’, Will Haswell as ‘Dave McFly’, Emma Lloyd as ‘Linda McFly’ and Mark Oxtoby as ‘Strickland’. Also in the cast are Rhianne Alleyne, Amy Barker, Matt Barrow, Joshua Clemetson, Jamal Crawford, Bessy Ewa, Morgan Gregory, Ryan Heenan, Cameron McAllister, Alessia McDermott, Laura Mullowney, Nic Myers, Shane O’Riordan, Katharine Pearson, Justin Thomas, Melissa Rose and Tavio Wright.
Based on the Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment film, BACK TO THE FUTURE The Musical has a book by Bob Gale and new music and lyrics by Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Alan Silvestri and six-time Grammy Award-winning Glen Ballard, with additional songs from the film including The Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode.
Marty McFly is a rock ‘n’ roll teenager who is accidentally transported back to 1955 in a time-travelling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr Emmett Brown. But before he can return to 1985, Marty must make sure his high school-aged parents fall in love in order to save his own existence.
BACK TO THE FUTURE The Musical
London WC2R 0NS