It's one of the biggest movies in history so hopes for the musical adaptation of Back To The Future are bound to be high. How could it possibly live up to everyones expectations? Before I go into it, let me take you back in time to see the long journey this show has taken.
We all know and love the original movie that first came out in 1985 but the road to turn it into a stage musical began in 2005. Workshopped in London in 2018, it opened to the public in February 2020 when it began a pre-West End run in Manchester. Any time traveller would tell you that was not the best date to begin a show as 3 short weeks later, it closed its doors. Nevertheless, the West End date was announced for May 2021 though this was eventually moved to August 2021. You'd think it would be smooth sailing from then but, mere hours before the shows official press night in September, star Roger Bart was diagnosed with Covid so people were asked to come back weeks later so they could review the show with the main cast. And now here we are - what a journey!
It's hard to replicate such iconic performances from the actors in the original movie, but the cast here strike the delicate balance of paying tribute to nuances in the original characterisations while making the roles their own. Olly Dobson is utterly charismatic as Marty McFly, remaining on stage for the bulk of the show and ensuring he never misses a beat. It may seem impossible to watch the character of Doc without thinking of Christopher Lloyd but Roger Bart well and truly encompasses the role to make it his own. Eccentric and just a bit weird, Bart steals the scene every time he is on stage.
The role of Marty's dad George McFly is played by Hugh Coles, who may be the unexpected star of the show. A spot on recreation of the character has left the audience gasping, cheering and laughing as soon as he opens his mouth. With more manneurisms than any other character, Coles gives a note-perfect performance, ensuring the audience will fall in love with him. Rosanna Hyland has the unenviable task of playing Marty's mother who falls in love with her son when he travels back in time - not the easiest of tasks, but Hyland excels in the role.
Courtney Mae-Briggs is lovely if not limited by a small role as Marty's actual love interest Jennifer while Cedric Neal shows off his incredible talent as Goldie Wilson making sure the audience like the sound of that amazing voice of his.
We all know the handful of classic songs from the movie such as 'The Power Of Love' and 'Johnny B. Goode'. They are saved for the closing section of the show, with the majority of the remainder of the songs being written for the show. What stops the new songs sounding jarringly different is the fact they wete written by Alan Silvestri, who worked on the original movie, alongside Glen Ballard who has written some of the most timeless songs ever recorded.
The new songs vary from decent to more forgettable numbers, and there is a case wondering if the show would suffer at all without them. Highlights of the new songs are act 1 closer 'Something About That Boy' which sounds like it could be from Hairspray and Cedric Neal's huge number 'Gotta Start Somewhere'. Roger Bart surprises with tender ballad 'For The Dreamers' while my personal favourite was Marty's brilliant duet with George 'Put Your Mind To It' which comes complete with genius choreography.
What makes this show really stand out is the incredible staging. You are immediately blown away by the detail as you walk into the theatre and that only grows as the show starts. Withoiut spoiling anything, the iconic DeLorean steals the show with some genius effects that will not only leave you wondering how they did it, but made this grown man feel like a child watching in awe. A clever use of video projections and special effects means some of the larger sequences are recreated in a way that is not only satisfying but a joy to watch.
Back To The Future isn't just a quick cash in on a well-loved title. The movie has been painstakingly taken apart and put back together again by the movies original creators Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis to make it work on the stage. Entire sequences have been removed, new sequences added, plot points changed and the show updated. The result is a show that has been made for fans of theatre, not just the movie. This shows a great level of care and understanding from the entire creative team.
Movie musicals may be ten a penny these days but Back To The Future is up there with the best of them. A faithful recreation of a movie that will doubtlessly please its legion of fans, this will also win the series new fans as there is enough to please any fan of musical theatre. With great chorepgraphy, staging and stunning lighting, this really is a beast of a show. A huge spectacle, this could just be the best show in the West End at the moment. It may have taken a long time to get there but it was well and truly worth the wait.
Back To The Future is playing at the Adelphi Theatre - currently booking until July 2022. Tickets available from https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/back-to-the-future-the-musical/