The Strand, London WC2R 0NS 020 3725 7068
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Contains flashing lights, strobe effects, smoke/haze, loud music and pyrotechnics throughout.
Signed performance: 27th January 2022 at 7.30pm.
Doc has a new car which can go anywhere... literally. When Marty McFly takes a trip with him into the past, a string of events must happen again - so that Marty McFly can happen.
The hit 1980s movie takes musical theatre form.
(seen at the second preview performance, afternoon 21st August 2021)
Great, Scott? Depends a bit if Scott is a once-a-year or fewer visitor to West End shows, a regular or a professional reviewer, thinks the monkey.
Assuming Scott is the first, he’s going to love it. A cherished classic movie is filleted by Bob Gale to create an amusingly engaging storyline. Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard drop in songs to which Chris Bailey adds energetic 80s dance routines for an appropriately dressed ensemble.
Tim Hatley, Tim Lutkin, Gareth Owen, Chris Fisher and Finn Ross create scenery, video, sound, lighting, and special effects which keep the show kinetic and add both wit and “wow factor” throughout the evening.
Olly Dobson (Marty McFly) and Roger Bart (Doc Brown) match their screen counterparts – with added song-and-dance ability. A confused teenager / eccentric genius double act who make carrying the show together look effortless (once Doc can get his helmet on – preview problem, in joke!). Bart could potentially be in the trophy line – and not just for “Best Flux Capacitor.”
There’s outstanding work too from Aidan Cutler as bully Biff, menacing meathead par-excellence. His victim Hugh Coles (George McFly) demonstrates his acting versatility in his final scene, while wife Rosanna Hyland (Lorraine Baines) makes a lot of a very small role supporting him and put-upon sister Emma Lloyd (Linda McFly).
Outside of the family, Cedric Neal in the dual role of Goldie Wilson and Marvin Berry should also be checking his inbox at awards time.
The ensemble is well-drilled, with an energy probably powering the lighting around the proscenium. The monkey was particularly delighted to note Bessy Ewa and Nic Myers among them. It saw them both in their Arts Ed graduation show “Freaky Friday” just weeks before their career-paths crumbled before their eyes. The joy in seeing them book wonderful West End roles is endless.
So, Scott, his family and friends will leave the theatre having had a pretty great time. The show will suit particularly families with teenage boys who show no inclination towards anything except technology – if they don’t connect with this, nothing will help until those hormones settle down in around 10 years or so.
And then we come to the theatre regulars and professional reviewers. The main question they will probably ask is “why did anyone think it was a particularly good idea to make the successful movie into a stage show in the first place, let alone a musical?”
On the plus side, the storytelling is possibly superior to the film in trimming off excesses. The show zips along without lag, and whether you choose to appreciate the decently choreographed dance routines as stops along the way or find them unwanted interruptions is personal choice.
The brutally frank musical afficionado may feel that there isn’t a new song in the show which sticks in the memory longer than five minutes. “It Works” is probably the best, but further in there are some real mis-fires, notably the 11’O Clock number “For The Dreamers” which lacks the pathos to sell its idea as intended. The rhyming dictionary is a little too often at hand, though mostly deployed to bring needed levity.
This all alas lends a coldness to proceedings for most of the show as the music fails to assist in building much relationship between audience and characters. That seems to be assumed - and with many of them hardly on-stage for much of the night, it is impossible to grow it through the evening.
For the monkey, it makes the show feel at times reduced to a bit of a two-hander. There are too few opportunities for the female characters to shine, leading to something of an imbalance which multiple “ladies’ only” dance routines do not really redress.
The main saving grace of the show for the regular theatregoer is that it is done with good humour, some neat visual gags and self-awareness. The trouble is that it goes too far at times (could have done without the virus material, though the audience loved it) and there are many ancient theatrical tropes and effects which are fun only for those who have never seen them before. Still, odd outbursts of genuine raucous laughter assist greatly, particularly towards the end.
Given that it does exactly what the wonderfully themed foyer promises, providing a little time-travel to an entertaining place, the monkey would say it is looking at a very popular hit with the public, if not one with the professional reviewers - just going by the audience reaction around it.
This will probably disturb the time-continuum of the Adelphi for at least a year or two and should be on the list of any family whose own Marty and Linda need educating in just what their parents didn’t do, and the consequences of it.
Back to the Future live on stage....just heaven. Can't remember a single song but will never forget the astounding, jaw dropping effects. This is the most fun I've ever had in the theatre. Hope it runs fir years so I can save up to see it again !
This seems to be getting rave reviews in public comments but I was left a little bit cold. On the positive side, the performances were great, there were some nice (minor) adaptations from the plot of the film to make it both feasible and more contemporary and the special effects really are special. There is no doubt that you are seeing something never before seen on a West End stage. One small technical hitch with a curtain did detract slightly from the 'wow' factor of the most spectacular sequence but apart from that it's astounding. Also, the costumes are incredibly faithful to those seen in the film. However, if you know the script well, then there is very little mystery or surprise. While it's fun to hear those lines repeated (along with occasional whoops and cheers from the audience), it makes for a rather overfamiliar evening. In addition to that, the music doesn't really pack a punch and I am struggling to remember anything the day after except the familiar songs from the film. Everyone around me seemed to be having a good time and I admit I laughed a lot, but I was left feeling that this is a case of style over substance.
Get to the theatre early (assuming the most chaotic queue management I've experienced in years allows time to look) to see the foyer. It's an utter delight, transformed into a replica of Hill Valley. And the theatre? You're in a giant Flux Capacitor!
I wonder if there was anyone in the audience who had NOT seen the original film? The massive applause, just because the opening credits appeared on stage - suggests a congregation of fanboys and fangirls. Those opening graphics? Pure 80s (fans of Hitchhiker's Guide will have looked fondly at them), leading in to a fine replica of Doc Brown's house. We all know what comes next... and they stage it to perfection.
But this isn't a slavish replica of the film. The narrative has been trimmed and tightened (everyone will have a line or two they miss, but they've kept most of the important stuff), the special effects are mindboggling (the DeLorean rivals Aladdin's magic carpet in the "How did they do that?" stakes), the staging and each set is spot on, the lighting is perfection.
The actors? Olly Dobson (Marty) and Roger Bart (Doc - who needs to put up a new shelf at home for the plethora of awards he is going to win) recreate our two heroes perfectly, bouncing off one another with glee (both were grateful for a handy prop to hide behind and battle the giggles). Hugh Coles IS George McFly - he captured every characteristic and when he (spoiler alert... who am I kidding, we all know the story) saves Lorraine (Rosanna Hyland, squeezing every ounce out of a part that gives an actress all too little to work with) he shows his range of acting chops. And Cedric Neal in the dual role of Goldie Wildon/Marvin Berry should also be putting up a new award shelf. And BTTF wouldn't work without a strong Biff. Aiden Cutler gets it just right, pairing aggression with stupidity.
The choreography is elaborate but fits and is perfectly executed. The whole ensemble - many of whom make their West End debuts (I was delighted to see one or two performers I've seen in other productions taking the next step) - deserve recognition for their energy.
Clearly no expense has been spared putting together this production... except for on the score. This is a talented songwriting team, yet there isn't a memorable number (this is a soundtrack I won't be buying), and isn't the point of a song in a musical to move the show forward? Too often the song told you what you already know (the song that establishes Marty and Jennifer are boyfriend and girlfriend... just after a conversation that said this). And there didn't seem to be a coherent score template or musical theme.
And what were the Star Wars references about? The lightsabre was fun but pointless... and the opening number of the second half, a dance number held in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon? It did absolutely nothing to progress the story, it was a weak number, though it did give the ensemble the chance for a complex dance routine that showed Roger Bart can pull some shapes. It must have cost a lot to stage, money worth spending somewhere else.
This show could have been staged as a play, with the occasional song where needed (obviously Power of Love) and would have been all the better for it. But then, would it have fallen victim to the Fanboys/Fangirls picking it apart as every line was compared to the film?
The show is high energy, it's fun, it's definitely worth seeing and I'd guess a lot of people will go back again. Yes, it's flawed, but overlook them and enjoy the energy of the cast, the stunning effects and the overall joy of a great film brought to the stage. But save your money on the soundtrack album.
Stalls B8 & 9:
Very close to the stage. For this production (the stage is high) you are looking both up and across which can get uncomfortable. Thankfully there were some empty seats next to us, at the interval we moved to B11 & 12; moving that bit more central meant you were looking straight ahead (still upwards), a far more comfortable experience. Shorter theatregoers will lose the back of the stage, taller ones will still lose the very front. All four seats were very comfortable (not a fidget) and legroom is decent.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
To 27th February 2022
Monday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday at 3pm
NO TUESDAY PERFORMANCES.
From 28th February 2022
Monday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday at 3pm
NO TUESDAY PERFORMANCES.
Runs 2 hours 40 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
Monday to Thursday:
Friday to Sunday:
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