On LoveLondonLoveCulture, Emma Clarendon rounds up the reviews for screen-to-stage musical, now receiving its West End premiere at the Adelphi Theatre.
Digital Spy: “Where Back to the Future: The Musical is slightly let down is in the songs that are now used to tell the story of Doc and Marty. In the moment, they’re enjoyable and backed by terrific choreography and staging, but you might struggle to recall them after watching the show.”
The Arts Desk: **** “Whether you’ve seen the movie ten times or never, this will be a night to remember.”
The Guardian: *** “Beyond the car’s star turn, this is an eccentric show, directed by John Rando, that is partly an ode to the film but also a tribute act that speaks to its own theatricality. The book by Bob Gale (who wrote the film with Robert Zemeckis) keeps the film’s best lines, and even with the addition of 16 new songs (music and lyrics by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard), it seems like a show stuck in time, too uncannily like the original (though there is one functional plot change).”
London Theatre1: ***** “Aside from the DeLorean Tim Haley’s design is dazzling with slick and clever scene movements in front of backdrops projecting illuminated wall-scapes of microchips and semiconductors and Musical Director Jim Henson helps to keep up the cracking pace with a punchy 14-piece band. John Rando’s direction is a smart, sassy, thrills ’n’ spills state-of-the-art kaleidoscope, giving us a show that is fun for all generations.”
Evening Standard: “Visually, the show’s a treat too, with lots of little in-jokes and exuberant swing-style dance routines, including one that’s a flat-out homage to that other 1980s teen classic, Footloose. And let’s be frank: the biggest anxiety was how they’d do the DeLorean, since cars on stage tend to be stationary or ponderous. Happily, the time machine is a triumph of theatrical engineering, instantly recognisable but with an overhaul and an upgrade. Much like the musical itself. Go, enjoy.”
Variety: “As Marty, Olly Dobson never quite relaxes into the role. But although he’s haunted by Michael J. Fox’s performance, he ticks all the requisite boxes. By contrast, while Roger Bart perfectly captures Christopher Lloyd’s wide-eyed, manic intensity, he transcends mere impersonation. Bart generates huge laughs as he ricochets around the set. But it’s his control of time that captivates, as he switches like lightning between machine-gun-fast delivery and wonderfully elongated pauses of stupefaction forever filled with comic intensity. Every time he’s on stage, the temperature rises.”
The Independent: *** “All this direct imitation does mean that there’s something distinctly cinematic about Back to the Future: The Musical. Not only is there a heavy use of scrims and digital projection, but there’s an impressive amount of engineering work that’s gone into the operation of the DeLorean – arguably the real star of John Rando’s nimble direction.”
Time Out: *** “The story remains an extremely enjoyable romp, with chuckles aplenty; the stagecraft is a wow, especially with regards to the DeLorean. Glenn Ballard and Alan Silvestri’s new songs are unquestionably overshadowed by the ones from the film (‘The Power of Love’, ‘Earth Angel’ et al), but it’s nice that they’ve written them in the style of the periods they’re set in. And they come into their own a bit more in a second half that does finally ease off the accelerator and allow for a couple of thoughtful duets (between Marty and his dad and Marty and Doc) that deepen the characters rather than just frantically riff on them.”
The Times: ** “In the end, though, it’s like sitting in a musty, 40-year-old DeLorean and discovering that the engine keeps stalling. I suspect that if you’re a hardcore fan who knows every line of the film script you’re going to buy a ticket anyway. Others should beware.”
The London Magazine: “What is lacking in the score is undoubtedly made up in the special effects, and it wouldn’t be Back to the Future without the DeLorean that made Marty’s time-travelling journey happen. I cannot imagine the difficulty of incorporating the car, which must travel at the very specific 88MPH, into a theatre without losing the audience to reality, but they’ve achieved the impossible. Accompanied by Finn Ross’ projections and Tim Lutkin’s effective lighting design, the DeLorean appears to travel at speed on the stage, leaving the audience gasping in their seats.”
iNews: *** “Once the dazzle of John Rando’s production wears off, though, it all feels a bit pointless. Just as Tim Hatley’s designs, with their gliding, revolving sets, Finn Ross’s stunning video and Tim Lutkin’s Tron-like LEDs recreate the movie so accurately that they prompt gasps of recognition, the performances are meticulous impersonations of their screen counterparts.”
REVIEW ROUND-UP: What’s the consensus on screen-to-stager @BTTFMusical? @LoveLDNLoveCul has the full rundown on what critics are saying. #WestEnd #theatrereviews #BackToTheFuture
Back to the Future continues to play at the Adelphi Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, Encore Tickets, London Theatre Direct, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk and Last Minute.com.