Feb 27th-March 4th
Stagecraft: Book: Performance:
The new Commitments musical comes with high praise from the West End, so like myself and the gentleman to my right, & just about everyone else in the audience, we were all expecting big things! This show is not just a musical, for it stays very true to the film and a lot of the first act is more of a play telling the story of the movie, with a few musical numbers thrown in for good measure. By being true to the film one has to remember the cast were not very good at the start, and have to go on a musical journey to reach their destination. Or as my friend to the right put it “it was alright but they were a bit shite”. I was lucky enough to be accompanied for the evening by two of my very favourite ladies (my Auntie and my 82 year old Nana), who had made the trip through on the bus from Glasgow to see the show. We all loved it and had had a positively splendid night, we thought, sitting with a couple of whiskys later that evening while comparing notes on the show. My auntie said it “just didn’t get going” in the first half. I agreed, and ruminsaed they could have done more, but I understood the reason why there were holding it back. For me, there was a glimmer of hope, as three very bright stars in the form of the ‘Girls’ (played by Leah Penston – Imelda, Christina Tedders -Bernie, Amy Penston – Natalie) bounced on to the stage and quickly went from “shite” to songbirds.
The set changes are slick, and focus on small areas of the stage, which has the effect of drawing you in as the story unfolds as it is narrated by Jimmy, played by Andrew Linnie. As the curtain fell on the first act I politely asked a very kind lady who was sitting on the other side of the steps from me if she would be so kind as to swap seats so that my Nana & Auntie could join me at the front left of the circle. Now these were good seats and you felt as if “you were right there in the middle of at all,” to quote my Nana, and I would have to agree our position was brilliant.
Like the title of the band and the movie, you have got to stay committed, and feel the faith that there is a lot more to come. Now I had my two ‘Soul sisters’ beside me, & after a our interval drinks we were all set. Ads the show progressed, although I never saw anyone standing up in the isles and dancing, I think there were a few people dying too! I have been told off from my Nana over the years, but as she told me to “stop moving about, you are shaking the life out of me,” I did have a wee laugh to myself and started a more serene hand-tapping. The 2nd act was a riot, nonstop frolics from start to finish. Everyone stepped up to the plate, and Declan – played brilliantly by Brian Gillian – was on fine form as he belted out all the favorites. I wasn’t sure if he would big enough to fill Declan’s boots when I saw and heard him in the first half, but he absolutely nails it in the second. It is a roller-coaster of a ride with lots of thrills, tons of soul and bags of laughs. We had a brilliant night and thoroughly enjoyed the full thing.
Get yourself on the weekend, relax ,have a few drinks and don’t be afraid to let it all out! You will have a brilliant night!!
Reviewer : Mark Parker