Monday, 16 June 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal

Written by Ben Elton in the same style as he wrote "We Will Rock You", the musical using the songs of Queen. Some great songs with some very clever arrangements but a weak storyline to hang the songs on. By the time you were ten minutes into the story, you knew how it would pan out and how it would all end, so there were no surprises or twists to keep you hanging on.

I also feel that coming the week after the brilliant "Rock Of Ages", another musical using rock songs, this one just didn't stand much of a chance, which may have been just bad luck and a little unfair on this cast. "Rock Of Ages" were big boots to fill and "Tonight's The Night" were wearing flip flops.

That said, there were some really good performances.Ben Heathcote played Stuart, the nerdy grease monkey who had fallen for Mary (Jenna Lee-James) and as he couldn't express his feelings for her, in the heat of the moment, traded his soul for the soul of his idol, Rod Stewart. The Devil, played by Tiffany Graves, transforms the nerdy Stuart to sexy rock God Stuart, who then proceeds to use Rod Stewart's soul to it's full extent for the sake of rock n roll, and everything that went with that lifestyle.

But all is not as it should be and bits of Stuart's nerdy soul remains in his body, and he soon longs for the love of Mary, and his old lifestyle. The Devil decides to change the souls back and Stuart reverts back to his old self and wins the girl of his dreams back by just being himself.

Along the way Stuart encounters Stoner, (Ricky Rojas), who was really comical as Ben Elton's equivalent of Mick Jagger, and Maggie May, who was re christened as Baby Jane by Rod Stewart (but not the real Rod Stewart), again played by Tiffany Graves.

The arrangements, as with "We Will Rock You", are very clever and it's nice to hear the songs we know and love interpreted in a different way, exposing what great lyrics they hold when stripped back to just guitar and vocals. It's also nice to hear a song written for a man, sung by a woman.

And what a really good group of vocalists there were. Ben, as Stuart, at times sounded close to Rod Stewart without trying to copy his raspy vocals. Mary (Jenna) and Dee Dee, Mary's best friend (Rosie Heath) had some really powerful stripped down and emotional songs to perform, and it's they who stood out and made the hairs tingle in this production. Saying that Andy Rees, who played Rocky, the man who also loved Mary but lost out to Stuart, and finally found out that love was just under his nose with Dee Dee, gave an emotion packed version of "I Don't Want To Talk About It", when rejected by Mary.

Act 2 won me over a little more and although the cast managed to get the audience clapping along, there was no standing ovation, Tonight Was (Not) the Night for that I'm afraid. If you love the songs of Rod Stewart, then go along and see this show but don't expect any deep and meaningful plot with a twist, because you won't get one.

There are some great Stewart classics like "Young Turks", "You're In My Heart", "Sailing", "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", "Hotlegs". "Stay With Me" and "Maggie May" and all here along with many other of your favourites you'd expect.

"Tonight's The Night" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 21 June.

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