I’ll have a cup of tea when I get in. Ooh, if the shop’s open on the way home I can pick up a snack as well. I really must catch up on those episodes of Sherlock I haven’t seen. Have we got milk in? Oh, I’ve got a meeting with my line manager in the morning.
If you’re sat in a theatre thinking these kind of things when you’re supposed to be watching a high-energy jukebox musical, then sadly, it’s not going well.
Tonight’s the Night – the Rod Stewart musical, written and directed by Ben Elton – is another soulless stab at entertainment from the man behind uber-cynical Queen travesty We Will Rock You. And as much as this reviewer tried to judge this show on its own merits, as a wise man once warned, if you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out.
An uninspired, unfunny, embarrassingly-written plot has geeky Stu (Ben Heathcoate), who is too shy to ask out the girl of his dreams Mary (Jenna Lee-James), sell his soul to the devil (!) to have Rod Stewart’s in return. The most annoying thing is, the pair both like each other from the start (a rather cute rendition of You’re in my Heart), rendering the whole entire plot completely and utterly pointless.
Stu becomes a rock star, joins a band with Mick Jagger-esque Stoner (Michael McKell) managed by cliche-ridden rock chick Baby Jane (Tiffany Graves); flesh-flashing backing dancers take things to a level best described as a bit Benny Hill; while hometown pals Rocky (Andy Rees) and Dee Dee (Sugababe Jade Ewan – actually very good) are given a twee will-they-won’t-they-of-course-they-will love triangle for us not to care about.
“But Rocky, I just wanna say…” “- I DON’T WAAAAAANA! TALK ABOUUUUT ITTTT!,” he’ll yelp (it’s a Rod Stewart song, you see), with TV talent show emoting and bending knees. Does Stu get back together with Mary? Will Rocky realise Dee Dee has always fancied him? Are we supposed to care about this back of a fag packet, ‘will this do’ script (see opening par)?
The competent cast remained determined to blow the roof off the place, even when met with indifference, as they regularly were on this cold Monday night in a new town. When in doubt, sing louder seemed to be the motto; it gave a frightening glimpse into what life might be like for an X Factor judge.
There were moments of enjoyment – the second act opener of Maggie May got the crowd going and was rather entertaining. And they expect you to don a paper sailors hats for the inexplicable shoehorning of Sailing at the end. By that time (and the show started 20 minutes late due to ‘technical difficulties’), you’ve really just got to make your own fun.