Review of 'Back to the Future The Musical'

back_to_the_future_musical.jpg https://www.backtothefuturemusical.com/

Yes, you read that right, they have made a musical out of the much loved 1985 film Back to the Future and, surprisingly, it is actually quite good. It doesn't replicate the film but does a bit of it's own thing with a number of nods not only to location but also pokes playful fun of the musical genre in general. The show has been tremendously successful selling out performances even after a year in the west end following a transfer in 2021 from Manchester where it premiered the previous year.

Marty McFly (Ben Joyce) is a young man living a middle-class life in a suburban US town (this is set up with a nice video segment that takes us from the London stage across the ocean to the USA). His father (Justin Thomas) is a shy man stepped on by town meanie Biff (Harry Jobson). He is friends with an eccentric inventor, Doc Brown (Gary Trainor), who tells him to meet later in the day in a local mall car park. There Marty discovers that Doc has invented a time machine but before he can explain further he dies from exposure to the nuclear material that powers the device. Marty rushes to get help but inadvertently triggers the time travel circuits which return him to just before his mother and father met, in the 1950s. He inadvertently attracts the amorous advances of his future mother so it is up to Marty to instead encourage her to get together with his geeky father before he is erased from existence.

So, pretty much like the film complete with amazing special effects. The time-travelling DeLorean looks great particularly when it comes out over the audience in the second act. The sets look great as well, particularly Doc's workshop and the school hall which is used during a chase sequence between Marty and a young Biff. The transitions look amazing with a large amount of choreography required for the frenetic pace of the story mirroring the film.

The audience, let's face it, knows the story and claps at appropriate places but how much does this rely on knowing the original material? On the off-chance that someone sees this without having seen the original film I think they will be able to follow it but by knowing the film I think you appreciate it more and look for certain things that make you smile.

The music is decent and includes the title track the “Power of Love” complete with a tribute to the artist “Hewy Lewis” with a reference in the musical to a famous artist “Hewy” attending Marty's amazing performance at the “Under the Sea” dance (which is, here, really quite well done). The rest of the music is reasonable but forgettable though with some good group dance sequences.

The cast do a great job and play their parts well. Doc is really the theatrical hit here as he is his camp-ish best, chewing up the scenery. Marty runs around a lot but is the musical and narrative heart of the show. Marty's father is a dead-ringer for his film counterpart including down to the intricacy of his speech and mannerisms which drew several rounds of applause from the audience.

It was fun to see the theatre entrance hall dressed up to look like 1950s Hill Valley. The show souvenirs are quite expensive, as you might expect, but good quality with some interesting articles and great pictures in the over-sized programme (£12).

Lobby

Stalls Entrance

When the curtain is down there is also quite an amusing bit where the screen tells us not to use our phones as they have not been invented yet and may disturb the space-time continuum. This adds to the sense of fun – It does not take itself too seriously which is to it's benefit.

Curtain

An enjoyable, silly evening with some great stagecraft but largely forgettable music. The show is 2 hours 40 minutes long and has a 20 minute interval.

Marquee

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-10-01



Adelphi Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: Adelphi Theatre Strand London WC2R 0NS

Public Transport: TUBE Charing Cross TUBE Leicester Square TUBE Covent Garden

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3725 7060

URL: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/adelphi

Situated right on the Strand on the edge of the West End the Adelphi may be a bit smaller but it is well known for staging some of the longest running shows in town. The art deco exterior extends to the interior with fairly bland and boring decor throughout.