BWW Review: BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE MUSICAL, Manchester Opera House
Great Scott! Back to the Future, the 80s cult classic, has reached the stage, making its world premiere as a stage musical in Manchester.
Marty McFly is transported 30 years back in time when a time machine experiment with the town's resident mad scientist, Doc Brown, goes awry. Now back in the 1950s, he faces some unexpected challenges as he accidentally changes the course of history when he meets the high-school versions of his parents. In a race against the clock, Marty has to figure out how to save himself and his family, all while trying to find a way to get back to the future.
With a book from Bob Gale, who co-wrote the film with Robert Zemeckis, the musical is closely based on the original Hollywood hit. However, you could say that the team behind the stage adaptation have taken a huge risk even deciding on adapting the film for theatre - it's very hard to get these things completely right, especially with such an iconic movie with a following as dedicated as Back to the Future - but this production is spot on.
Olly Dobson stars as Marty McFly, and from his first scene, you can see exactly why he was cast. Dobson delivers his performance with the perfect amount of charm and wit throughout, and his powerhouse vocals fill the theatre during every one of his musical numbers.
Hugh Coles is an absolute delight as George McFly, drawing in the audience with every word spoken and lyric sung. The comedic elements of Coles' performance are executed perfectly in addition to the heartwarming and emotive scenes which are dotted throughout.
Dobson and Coles' partnership is one of the standout parts of the production. The onstage father and son duo are the ideal pairing, and you'll find yourself rooting for them all the way through. A particular highlight is the number "Put Your Mind To It", a firm audience favourite that's jam-packed with fun lyrics, impressive vocals and some zesty dance moves.
Doc Brown, played by Roger Bart, is everything you would imagine and more. A lively stage presence and with a great voice to match, Bart wows as the eccentric scientist.
With music and lyrics from Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard, the production features a superb soundtrack. It's a great mix of powerful ballads, punchy hits and classic numbers that appeared in the original film, and each song fits in extremely well.
The intricate set design is in a class of its own, with a super team of creatives bringing the story to life. Hugh Vanstone and Tim Lutkin's elaborate lighting is the cornerstone of the design, while Chris Fisher's mind-blowing illusions and Finn Ross's videos bring everything together, mesmerising you every time the DeLorean speeds up to 88mph. The production features an array of special effects over the course of the two acts, from fire and explosions to a showering of bubbles.
Back to the Future is a must-see, whether you're a fan of the film or not. First stop, Manchester. Next stop? World domination.
Production image courtesy of Sean Ebsworth Barnes