“Lorraine. My Density Has Brought Me To You.” Or at least to the Adelphi Theatre, London for a night of wonderment of sheer spectacle, laughs and good music at the Back To The Future Musical. The latest in a now enlarging line of movies that have been adapted to the stage, which seems to have bucked the previous trend of the 90’s to do it the other way around. Something Doc Brown may not have foreseen when he jumped into his DeLorean and speed off to the future.
Pretty much everyone knows the story of Marty McFly and Doc Brown from 1985’s highest grossing movie Back To The Future starring Micheal J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It’s a film that at first glance was probably rife for a jukebox musical adaptation. However Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis (The original writers, producer and directors of the movie), we far more clever than that. They’ve given us a multi-generational update, without changing too much that means that Back To The Future will live on beyond it’s origins without the needless remake/reimagining that Hollywood is so fond of these days.
The show opens with the familiar score from Back To The Future, that places you back in familiar territory of the films original world. It’s almost comforting to arrive back in Hill Valley in 1985 and rediscover the world of Marty the Doc and that troublesome Time Machine that propels Marty back to his worst nightmare, 1955, his parents teenage years and by sheer Murphy’s Law ends up in the middle of his mothers teen crush, which could ultimately end his and siblings existence and then there’s the looming problem of school bully Biff too… Great Scott! Yeah we know it’s heavy.
Where to start with Back To The Future, the musical? Well, lets start with the theatre itself, decked out in neon blue glowing time circuits and a menagerie of electronic lab sounds from 80’s TV and clocks ticking everywhere, let you know this is no simple homage to the movie. When this baby hits 88mph or should that be bpm? You witness some serious… Well you get the picture.
The stage-craft, lighting and stage effects/illusion work is simply phenomenal. There is literally no show that is like this anywhere else around in the West End currently or beyond. Sure Phantom has great illusions and Lion King utilises some great physical effects, but Back To The Future trumps them all by a great distance. The DeLorean alone whether it’s crashing into the barn or chasing down the road, is a very clever use of staging. The Tim Luskin’s lighting design is almost a character in itself its so deftly utilised throughout the whole show.
The cast is superb, they all are engaging, hugely likeable and look like they are all living their best lives up there on the stage. None more so than Roger Bart, who as Doc Brown is absolutely the best of the best. His timing, the constant gags (Some of which were most certainly ad libs for his co-stars) and just his overall presence towers above proceedings. (He is currently finishing his run to be replaced by the also hugely talented Cory English.)
Will Haswell as Marty (Deputising for Ben Joyce on the night) was the perfect foil to Bart’s controlled insanity, with a perfect blend of acting and reacting. Then the duo of Amber Davies (Lorraine Baines/McFly) and Cameron McAllister (Deputising for Oliver Nicholas as George McFly) were both electric as the destined couple. In fact the whole cast from top to bottom performed like it was opening night. A collection of all in performances that were a delight to be part of.
If there’s any complaint about Back To The Future The Musical and in reality there isn’t. It’s that there’s no real outstanding number or tune (Other than Huey Lewis’s Power of Love or Back in Time) that will have you humming as you leave, but then that’s because the show doesn’t depend on the music alone. The whole production is out of this world and hugely recommended.
But it’s the finale, you know, where Marty attempts to get back to 85. It’s absolutely incredible. Like nothing you have seen, it encapsulates the tense drama of the film, real edge of your seat stuff, despite you knowing the outcome, it grips you, pulls you in and lets you go to rapturous applause, because it is simply that good and a spectacle to behold.
So don’t delay book your tickets, get in line and prepare to go back… Back to the Future!
Shows? Where we’re going you don’t need (Any other) Shows!