BWW Reviews: TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT, New Wimbledon Theatre, March 17 2014
On the billboard, it's described as The Rod Stewart Musical - and that is exactly what it is. Settle in for a gallop through Rod The Mod's hits - "You're In My Heart", "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", "You Wear It Well" and plenty more. It's a jukebox musical - what do you expect?
Well - if you've any experience of the genre - not much of a story and this one, by Ben Elton, is even flimsier than most. A misfits' romance is set against the temptations of life on the road as the soul (and libido) of Rod himself temporarily sends a nerdy car mechanic off the rails (while Rod turns down massages for the first time in living memory). The songs - and the performers - deserve better.
Ben Heathcote's grease monkey Stuart (geddit?) is the centre of the action, but the show really comes to life with the singers who play off him. Jenna Lee-James has plenty of belt (maybe too much when amplified through stacks of speakers) as his on-off girlfriend Mary and Tiffany Graves doesn't hold back as tart-with-a-heart road manager Baby Jane. Their diva numbers are offset by Andy Rees' plaintive " I Don't Wanna Talk About It" and Sugababe Jade Ewen's delicate "What Am I Gonna Do?" - of course, the Great Man himself could switch from rock god to balladeer at the swing of a sporran and the show reflects that range of material.
Much needed comic relief is provided by Stoner (there's nothing that's not obvious in this one), played by Michael McKell as a cross between Mick Jagger and Nigel Tufnell. His pantoish routines and mugging to the audience is lapped upby youngsters and those even older than Rod himself in the stalls. A brief spell of corpsing with Ms Graves (as the two old hands just couldn't get the lines out) went down particularly well.
Tonight's the Night (at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 22 March and on tour) is about credible as musical theatre as the Loch Ness Monster is as a dinosaur, but it's a show, not a story and, when everyone dons a silly hat and stands to wave the arms about for "Sailing" (included because, well, it had to be), hundreds of people are having a damn good time. Which is the whole point after all. .