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Back to the Future: The Musical - Adelphi Theatre (UK)

Book by Bob Gale. Music and Lyrics by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Co-Created by Robert Zemeckis.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Adelphi Theatre, London

Booking available until February 24th, 2024


4.5 STARS


- Great Scott! Back to the Future: The Musical is 1.21 Gigawatts of fun -


Having been a lifelong fan of the Back to the Future movies, when I heard that one of my favourite films was being turned into a musical, my reaction was…Great Scott! With a book by Bob Gale, and the show being co-created by the original films’ director Robert Zemeckis, as well as music by Glen Ballard and the legendary Alan Silvestri, I was cautiously optimistic. Now, having had the pleasure of seeing the production in London’s West End, I can safely say that Back to the Future: The Musical is filled with 1.21 Gigawatts of fun!


With the film's original creators on board to oversee the musical’s creation, the focus on Back to the Future is to honour the original film, adding in a few slight changes to adapt to modern times and also account for what can physically be done on a stage. The main query I had when seeing the production was “How the hell are they going to do the Delorean??” Under director John Rando, the musical leads a stellar production team that have utilised lighting, video projections and mechanics to send the Delorean screaming onto the stage, streaking through time, and, yes, flying!


The cast of Back to the Future: The Musical, West End. Images by Sean Ebsworth Barnes.


Outside of the obvious musical elements, the production itself rests on Tim Lutkins lighting, Finn Ross’ video, Gareth Owens’ sound and Chris Fisher’s illusion designs. There seems to be an energy of Be More Chill’s electronics and digital sounds that appealed to a cult audience. Through their combined efforts, the famous Delorean’s time machine is the main spectacle of the production in the big set pieces as Marty (Ben Joyce doing a close Michael J. Fox impression) goes back and forth through time. Your jaw will physically hit the floor.


Joyce takes on the iconic role of Marty McFly well, utilising the vocal inflections that made Michael J. Fox perfect for the role. Whilst Joyce doesn’t do anything extraordinary with the character, he is true to who Marty is from the film and is impressively light on his feet through Chris Bailey’s choreography.


Playing opposite Joyce in the arguably much more fun role of Doctor Emmet Brown, Cory English is a tonne of fun as the inventor of time travelling in style. English takes on what Roger Bart created as the original Doc Brown on the West End and adds his own spin on the Doc. Hitting the highs of his vocal range and ecstatic outbursts of “Great Scott” in numbers like ‘It Works’ whilst also finding the more sombre moments in the song ‘This is for the Dreamers’, English makes the Doc his own.


Outside of the iconic songs from the film by Huey Lewis and the News such as ‘Power of Love’, ‘Back in Time’ and ‘Johnny B. Goode’ the most memorable songs in the musical are given to the Doc. Apart from ‘It Works’, ‘21st Century’ and ‘This is for the Dreamers’, the rest of the show’s tunes edge on being forgettable or at their worst, unnecessary.


The team proves that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.

Why the creative team decided to give George McFly (Oliver Nicholas) his own song whilst being a peeping Tom on Loraine Baines (Sarah Goggin) is beyond me. It made it much more difficult to support George in successfully wooing Marty’s future Mum and whilst aiming to be humorous, simply highlighted how creepy George was. Other songs given to minor characters in the original film, such as Jay Perry’s Goldie Wilson, served to highlight the film’s main themes and offer up some stellar dance numbers by the supporting ensemble.


For lovers of the original film, Back to the Future: The Musical does what it says on the tin, it’s an ode to the film and offers a variety of easter eggs throughout. From iconic one liners, through to finding Silvestri’s glorious theme as an undertone throughout certain songs, there’s plenty to feast on. As the show reaches its climax and George finally has to stand up for himself and save Lorraine from Biff Tannen’s (Jordan Pearson) wandering hands and malapropisms, you’ll find yourself struggling to not shout out in support.


Go for the feel good nature of the entire musical, stay for the jaw-dropping visual and mechanical effects. The team of Back to the Future: The Musical proves that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.

 

Back to the Future: The Musical


CREATIVES

BOB GALE BOOK/CO-CREATOR/PRODUCER

ROBERT ZEMECKIS CO-CREATOR/PRODUCER

ALAN SILVESTRI MUSIC AND LYRICS

GLEN BALLARD MUSIC AND LYRICS

COLIN INGRAM LEAD PRODUCER

JOHN RANDO DIRECTOR

TIM HATLEY DESIGNER

CHRIS BAILEY CHOREOGRAPHER

NICK FINLOW MUSICAL SUPERVISOR, VOCAL AND MUSIC ARRANGEMENTS

TIM LUTKIN LIGHTING DESIGNER

HUGH VANSTONE LIGHTING CONSULTANT

FINN ROSS VIDEO DESIGNER

GARETH OWEN SOUND DESIGNER

CHRIS FISHER ILLUSION DESIGNER

ETHAN POPP ORCHESTRATIONS

BRYAN CROOK ORCHESTRATIONS

DAVID CHASE DANCE ARRANGEMENTS

MAURICE CHAN FIGHT DIRECTOR

DAVID GRINDROD ASSOCIATES CDG CASTING DIRECTOR

CAMPBELL YOUNG ASSOCIATES WIGS, HAIR AND MAKE-UP

JIM HENSON MUSICAL DIRECTOR

RICHARD FITCH ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

DARREN CARNALL ASSOCIATE CHOREOGRAPHER

ROSS EDWARDS ASSOCIATE SET DESIGNER

SIMON MARLOW PRODUCTION MANAGER

DONOVAN MANNATO PRODUCER

FRANKEL / VIERTEL / BARUCH / ROUTH GROUP PRODUCER

HUNTER ARNOLD PRODUCER

GAVIN KALIN PRODUCTIONS PRODUCER

PLAYING FIELD PRODUCER

CRUSH MUSIC PRODUCER

CJ ENM PRODUCER

TERESA TSAI PRODUCER

IVY HERMAN / HALLEE ADELMAN PRODUCER

ROBERT L. HUTT PRODUCER

RICARDO MARQUES PRODUCER

AUGURY PRODUCER

JORDAN MURPHY RESIDENT DIRECTOR

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