Review: Back to the Future the Musical

35 years on from its movie release, innovative science fiction masterpiece Back to the Future has returned but this time as a visually immersive musical.

Whilst die-hard fans might have worried about this new incarnation becoming a cheesy potted version of the film they grew up watching – they needn’t as original creators/co-writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis have been at the helm of this stage creation every step of the way.

The pair have made sure that this sticks as close to the original 80s movie as possible, so yes that means Marty McFly wears the iconic orange gillet, Doc Brown utters the words ‘Great Scott’ and oh yes… there’s the little matter of the DeLorean making an appearance!!!!!

The story remains the same, teenager Marty McFly accidentally travels back in time from 1985 to 1955, the year his parents first met, and the Hill Valley clock tower stopped working after being struck by lightning.

In a mix-up Marty ends up meeting his ‘younger’ Mum and becoming the guy she falls for rather than his Dad so, before he can transport himself back to the future, he has to fend off the interest of his amorous mother and ensure history (and his own existence) are not erased for good!

Relative newcomer Olly Dobson stars as Marty McFly and gives the fans exactly what they want – a carbon copy of the movie Marty, Michael J Fox. Dobson not only looks like the pint sized 80s heart throb but he also sounds uncannily like him too.

Whereas Michael never sung in the film though, Olly proves his vocal worth with ease, belting out the some of the iconic tracks from the films, such as Johnny B. Goode and The Power of Love.

Roger Bart as Doc Brown proves once again why he has won two Tony Awards and plethora of other nods for his musical theatre talent. Bart brings on the zany in bucket loads and delights the audience as the high energy inventor who jumps from one crazy outburst to another.

The result is genius and despite the fear you would be craving for Christopher Lloyd, he is but a distant memory as we witness a new Doc era.

Hugh Coles as George McFly is hilarious and considering this is his first professional stage debut he has took to it like a duck to water. His gestures and mannerisms as geeky George are both endearing and side-splittingly funny. Again, there’s some great casting here as he bears more than a passing resemblance to the actor who played George in the film.

It has to be said that Back to the Future is show that would have worked with or without music. Yes, Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri’s musical score was alright and added a new dimension but was it memorable, not really. The original songs lacked a quality you might find in the big hit musicals such as Wicked or Les Mis although to be honest that doesn’t matter here.

Back to the Future truly is a great show – end of. Plus, the stellar cast put their all into the musical numbers which detracts from the fact that you leave the show afterwards not remembering half of them but instead remembering that the performance of them wowed you.

The real magic happens the moment the songs from the original film soundtrack are played and there’s no taking away the nostalgic effect they have on the audience, producing a fizz of excitement that vibrates through the theatre seats.

The star of the show (albeit mechanical) has to be the DeLorean though, and the moment it graces the stage it’s greeted with affectionate gasps and whoops. The time travel happens through the use of screens and some impressive technical effects accompanied by loud bass sounds which leave the whole auditorium rumbling as if they are going back in time too.

Elsewhere nods must go to the impressive choreography by Chris Bailey and co-ordination from fight director Maurice Chan, especially in the fast moving and mesmerising Someone Like You scene, which has McFly jumping, hiding in and dodging school lockers, alongside Biff’s fists.

Back to the Future is a breathtaking musical experience which firmly ensures the legacy of this iconic movie is in safe hands with a new digital generation of theatregoers.

The show flows at breakneck speed from the opening strains of Alan Silvestri’s award winning soundtrack to the jaw-dropping cinematic finale which left the whole auditorium blown away at what they had just witnessed.

This is a ‘must see show’ so get your tickets now or even yesterday!

Runs at the Opera House, Manchester until May 17th.

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Back to the Future the Musical

Venue: Opera House
Cost: Start from £17

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