Following in the footsteps of Ghost The Musical, Monkee Business is the latest production to be launched as part of ATG’s ‘Manchester Gets It First’ initiative - a scheme that brings some of the biggest and best new musicals to Manchester venues, before they are seen anywhere else in the world. And if it’s premiere at the Hard Rock Cafe last Friday is anything to go by, then it looks like it will be enjoying a similar success story.

The brand new musical will hit the Manchester Opera House stage at the end of March, telling the tale of four young lads who get tricked into impersonating the infamous 60s band. Setting off on a trip of a lifetime around the world, the boys find themselves in the company of sexy Russian spies, nonsensical nuns, and many more ‘Austin Powers-stye’ adventures.

Far from a tribute show, this is a musical with a storyline of its own, a notion that writer Peter Benedict was keen to point out. “We were not just looking for four lookalikes, as it’s not a show about a tribute band,” Peter said at the launch.
“The boys needed to be good actors, great singers, have chemistry and give the audience a good time. He added -“Part of the humour is that they don’t actually look like The Monkees.”

After previewing the stars of the show, Ben Evans (Chuck, posing as Davy Jones), Oliver Savile (William, posing as Peter Tork), Stephen Kirwan (Andy, posing as Micky Dolenz) and Tom Parsons (Mark, posing as Mike Nesmith), it is clear that Peter’s cast criteria has indisputably been met.

Having rehearsed with each other for only a week, the boys have already built an impressive chemistry, have wonderful vocal harmony and show a natural ease with each other and their roles. Their versions of the classic songs "Hey We’re The Monkees"," Last Train To Clarksville" and "Daydream Believer" had a definite feel-good factor, which deserve kudos in their own right, and that have the ability to appeal to both old and new fans.

Produced by Michael Rose Ltd, who have brought audiences Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Spamalot, Monkee Business is already initiating a great deal of hype around the city and earning itself support, from the likes of Manchester City Council.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, said: “These are exciting times for Manchester, and this is yet another world first which has come to Manchester before going to London’s West End or Broadway.  “Manchester has become an artistic powerhouse, bringing thousands of people into the city.”

With a cast of 20, a live band and eye-catching costumes and set, it seems that you should be making it your business to see this promising and exciting new show.

- Rebecca Cohen