Tonight's The Night - The Rod Stewart Musical by Ben Elton
TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT REVIEW
A big mistake. Tonight's The Night
starts in Hell and simply refuses to get any better.
Unlike with We Will Rock You,
Elton somehow forgot to include one vital component to live musical
theatre – the story – and unlike We Will Rock You,
more or less forgot the pathos, the emotion and, oh yes, the self-deprecation
of his subject.
Stuart Clutterbuck (Molloy) is in love
with Sweet Lady Mary (Tucker). Trouble is he’s so shy he can’t
tell her. So what does he do? He sells his soul to the Devil (Graves)
of course and is given the supposed characteristics of his hero and
self-styled Sex King, Rod Stewart. Naturally enough, fame and cool goes
to young Clutterbuck’s head until he realises he’s lost
everything and wants to turn back the clock to win the girl of his dreams.
“I think I’ll sell my soul
to the Devil.”
“Can I have my soul back please?”
And there, in joyful short, is the script.
All pretty standard Faustian stuff,
one might think, except it isn’t because despite the tracing-paper
thin premise being barely enacted in the first half, the second sees
it disappear altogether leaving nothing in its wake but confusion. Better
to say that there isn’t a story but instead a three-wheeled vehicle
for a string of Stewart numbers played at deafening levels by screeching
juniors that might well have been better done a la Abba Mania to save
the cast, and the audience, the bother of having to look for something
There are some moments to remember.
Jeff Edwards playing the part of Stoner, the hash-smoking Cockney guitarist
and good-time reveller of the revamped Clutterbuck’s band, is
hilarious in his role and gathers the best lines to his chest as though
they were Rachel Hunter.
The music, too, is played exceptionally
well by a band situated high up at the back of the stage. Yet that shouldn’t
be a surprise. Rod Stewart, after all, is a legend. 140 million album
sales around the world and an iconic status built during a time when
legends were made and not manufactured is an achievement to be envied.
Here, however, his body of work is –
dare I say it – destroyed by a script that is so clichéd
it comes across as a commercial.
The cast work hard, but the words silk
purse and sow's ear come to mind and all too regularly. The choreography,
especially the devil scenes, has much pelvic hugging and there are plenty
of cheap laughs about cheesy balls to be had.
The love duet, You're in my Heart,
and the upbeat Do You Think I'm Sexy close the first act on
a better note, before things go west completely.
Whilst some of the slower numbers are
ok, they lend themselves to the "strings" treatment. The loud
rock numbers, Young Turks especially, are just terrible. The
lyrics are inaudible and therefore their relevance to “the storyline”
become totally lost.
By the time Mary and Stuart are united
in love and are safely honeymooning aboard Rod’s luxury yacht,
the coma is so intense it has the doctors reaching for the life support’s
off switch. Amidst much ruffling of paper shorter-order cook’s
hats that supposedly represented sailor’s titfers, the seminal
Sailing is belted out by the cast and audience alike with considerable
gusto and much arm waving.
Thankfully, as the song ends, so is
that self-same switch mercifully thrown to end the misery.
Taking the earthy pop songs of one rasping
singer and giving them the big band musical treatment with over elaborate
orchestrations, quite clearly doesn't work. Stewart sings about love,
heartbreak, sex and, urm, sailors. Queen sing about love, heartbreak,
nuclear devastation, murder and torment, being ripped off, and , urm,
that rich tapestry that is life. Their songs “fit” the concept
of a musical. As talented as Rodders is, his don’t, no matter
how much the square peg is battered into its hexagonal hole.
Overall, the show’s a mess that,
nonetheless, will appeal to ardent Stewart fans in their droves. For
the rest of us, however, now is the time to decorate the downstairs
loo or any other horrible task that’s been put off for weeks on
you would like to add your comments to this review of 'Tonight's The
Night - The Rod Stewart Musical ' live
at the Liverpool Empire Theatre in June 2006?
If so - please feel free to leave your FEEDBACK
Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit. - Chris High 2003.
Site designed and maintained by Steve Bennett 2006 all rights reserved