The Rod Stewart musical Tonight’s the Night rocked into Birmingham on Monday night for a week long run at New Alexandra Theatre, and proved to be loud, raucous and most definitely crowd pleasing fun.
The story, by Ben Elton, revolves around the plight of young Stuart, a (let’s be honest) harmless nerd with an almighty crush on the sweet Mary. Lacking in all the departments that he thinks attracts the ladies, he makes a pact with the (she) devil to swap his soul for that of his idol, that legendary rocker and undoubted ladies man, Rod Stewart. This works initially and he gets his girl, but having the soul of a music legend also sets him on his way to rock God glory. Only the path to true love and fame and fortune do not run smoothly…
There is a lot to love about this musical. It is lively and frenetic, and packed with energetic performances and great set pieces. I loved the opening Gasoline Alley, running into Young Turks, which introduced most of the main characters in one swoop. ‘Young Turks’ in particular, almost sounds like it was written for a musical, it is that perfect in this setting. I also love the in-jokes, the devil most obviously being one of the famed Rod Stewart leggy blondes, with many of the ladies in the ensemble being of the uber tall, uber leggy and uber blonde category, especially in comparison to the pocket sized Stuart (Ben Heathcote).
In terms of performances Ben Heathcote is fine as Stuart, although maybe a little lacking in charisma – Rod Stewart he ain’t. In contrast, the hilarious Michael McKell is just fantastic as ‘Stoner’ – the quintessential English rocker. He plays the role as a mixture of those famous ‘Stoners’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, complete with the tightest spandex trousers this side of Spinal Tap. The female performances are equally as good. Mary, as played by Jenna Lee-James has a powerful voice, shown to its best advantage when she sings the heartbreaking ‘I don’t wanna talk about it’ with such emotion that I almost shed a tear. Sugababe Jade Ewen’s role was smaller than I expected, but her rendition of ‘First Cut is the Deepest’ was beautiful and tender.
The songs, of course, are fantastic, and ensure that the crowd will be on their feet for the pleasing finale that includes ‘Sailing’ and ‘Maggie May’. The clapping and cheering at the end really summed up a night of pure entertainment and cheesy fun. I loved it!
Tonight’s the Night is at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 1st March. Click here for ticket information.