The cast of The Commitments at the opening night party. Ten of the ensemble are making their West End debuts.
The cast of The Commitments on opening night
© Dan Wooller

Roddy Doyle's new musical The Commitments, based on his 1987 novel, premiered at the West End's Palace Theatre last night with an abundance of celebrity guests in attendance (see gallery below).

Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the production stars an ensemble of rising stars, led by Killian Donnelly as bad boy lead singer Deco and Denis Grindel as band manager Jimmy Rabbitte.

Lloyd told WhatsOnStage at the aftershow party, which was held at O'Neill's in Soho: "All our previews have been half price and audiences have been really vocal and up for it, so when you get an industry crowd it can be quite muted by comparison. But they soon warmed up."

Ten of the cast are making their West End debuts in the production, with the youngest aged just 19. "It's quite remarkable what they're achieving - they're giving their absolute all to this" Lloyd said.

"The Commitments is very true to life, in that you can believe these events actually happening. I could have pushed Roddy to expand the love story, but it would've been naff."

The show tells the story of the unlikely rise to fame of a working class soul band in 1980s Dublin, and features songs including "Knock on Wood", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Mustang Sally".

"It would've been easy to to a cardboard cut-out version, but there's a lot of detail in the production, with sub-plots going on all the time," added Lloyd, who is also currently directing a series of plays at Trafalgar Studios.

"There are some knowingly cheap and tacky productions around, but I hope people can see that a lot of craft and thought has gone into this."

Joining Doyle, Lloyd and the cast to celebrate last night were celebs including Gareth Gates, Lenny Henry, Vanessa Feltz, Heidi Range and Nancy Dell'Olio.


Read our interview with cast member Killian Donnelly. And for more information about the The Commitments, click here