A jukebox of Rod Stewart’s greatest hits, Ben Elton‘s Tonight’s the Night tells the tale of a young lad who sells his soul to the devil to win over the love of his life. Little does he know that whilst fame, fortune and females each come his way in his journey to make something of himself, they cannot buy him happiness.
Artists’ songbook musicals have become quite a craze of the past ten years. Led by the critically acclaimed Mamma Mia, some, such as Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and 20th Century Boy stick to the life story of their artists. However, Ben Elton seems to prefer the prototype lain down by Mamma Mia, writing uplifting stories to run alongside the performer's music.
After Elton’s cheesy and cheerful Queen showcase, We Will Rock You, The Rod Stewart Musical is equally as tongue in cheek. Walking into the theatre, you are greeted by a host of ushers handing out white paper sailor’s hats and smiling at your bemusement, with a contrastingly amused look on their face.
The performance gets off to a rather rickety start, with the players seemingly still warming up as the show kicks off. Throughout the first half of the show a number of the dancers are out of sync with one-another and the dialogue is frequently stilted. There is immense difficulty with the sound levels throughout each of the big chorus numbers and diction is also surprisingly poor for a professional production.
That said, the show is still tremendously enjoyable and as it approaches the interval, everyone seems to settle firmly into his or her characters. An enormous improvement is seen not only for the group numbers, but amongst the individual actors too.
Stand out performances come from Rosie Heath‘s rendition of ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ as Dee Dee and Ricky Rojas‘ embodiment of Stoner, a rock and roll waster. Ben Heathcote, as Stuart, does a fantastic impression of Rod Stewart from the moment he makes his deal with the devil and Jenna Lee-James‘ vocals are utterly mesmerising. There are also a number of incredibly talented dancers amongst the cast.
The second half comes back in full swing and brings the story full circle to a sweet and sickly, but secretly satisfying, happy ending. The finale of ‘Sailing’ finally makes sense of the sailor’s hats, handed out prior to the show and, without shame, a good 90% of the audience don their head gear to sway along to the tune.
Despite the lack of oomph in the first few scenes, Tonight’s the Night is an entertaining yarn, with a number of giggles that make up a fun-filled script. Whilst I wouldn’t exactly declare this the musical of the decade, if you’re up for a bit of fun and are at a loss of what to do, this is a great way to fill up an evening.
Tonight's The Night plays at the Bristol Hippodrome until the 5th July and then tours to Oxford, Norwich, Woking and Canterbury until the 2nd August.