And speaking of the doctor, or rather Doc Brown, the eccentric inventor who sends young Marty McFly hurtling into the past, the role is now restored to the American actor Roger Bart, who missed the first couple of weeks of the show laid low with Covid-19. Bart gives a star performance, including well-judged asides and winks to the audience and the occasional touch of ad lib.
Whether or not you saw the original 1985 film, Back to the Future, directed by Robert Zemeckis, who collaborated with Bob Gale on this stage adaptation, you’re bound to be familiar with the broad outlines of the plot: 17-year-old Marty McFly (originally Michael J Fox, now the bright and multi-talented Olly Dobson), is accidentally blasted 30 years into the past in Doc Brown’s adapted DeLorean automobile. There he meets the young versions of his parents, sweet Lorraine Baines (Rosanna Hyland) and the hapless George McFly (Hugh Coles). When Lorraine falls for Marty, he has to contrive a way for his parents to fall in love, otherwise he won’t come into existence. Ever resourceful, he does just that.
The production is the very definition of slick, with set changes gliding effortlessly on stage: one moment we’re outside the Hill Valley High School, the next inside the Doc’s home crammed with weird gadgets; one moment we’re in a 1950s diner, the next in young Lorraine’s bedroom and a little later inside 1955 Hill Valley School, where a crucial dance is taking place. David Chase's choreography is never short of vibrant.
And then, of course, with apologies to the wonderful human cast, there’s the true star of the show: the DeLorean automobile. Propelled by stunning illusions and video design (Filipe Carvalho and Henrique Ghersi), it takes off and builds up to the fateful 88 mph, the speed required for time travel.
Sets and costumes are faithful to the plot’s time periods, the 1950s girls in ankle socks, swinging checked skirts and prim white blouses, the 1980s girls in bright leggings and leotards. The sets are detailed and very atmospheric. And the lighting and video projections are superlative, contributing to transporting us to the world of the musical from the moment we set foot in the auditorium.
It is, though, a musical… so what about Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard’s music and lyrics? The lyrics I found superb, with effortless rhymes, genuinely funny quips and easy-to-digest references to abstruse science. The music is serviceable. You certainly don’t come out humming a particular number, nor wake the next day with a persistent ear worm; but it’s lively, extremely pleasant, with clever period pastiche, and moves the plot along very efficiently.
In short, go!
Tickets are on sale now. Click here to book.
|What||Review: Back to the Future: the Musical|
|Where||Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London, WC2R 0NS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
20 Aug 21 – 03 Jul 22, 19:30 many matinees at different times. Consult website Dur.: 2 hours 40 mins approx inc one interval
|Website||click here to book|