Pros: A joyful, life-affirming musical that will have you on your feet, blissfully reliving the best of the rock’n’roll era.
Cons: Exploring the struggles that come with fame and glory is a well-trodden path, but still one worth treading on!
Sunny Afternoon. Two simple words, but if you know The Kinks – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – these words will set off a tune in your head, add a skip to your step, and make you dream of lazy summertime. Following a successful run at the Hampstead Theatre, the musical about The Kinks has transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End, and is bringing the house down night after night with hits such as You Really Got Me, Lola, and Dedicated Follower of Fashion. It won four Olivier Awards this year, including Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (John Dagleish as The Kinks’ front man Ray Davies) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical (George Maguire as Dave Davies) – a real achievement given London’s abundance of great musicals.
The story portrays both the euphoric highs and the agonising lows encountered by one of the leading rock bands of the sixties, whose songs regularly topped the charts in both the UK and the US. It’s a rags-to-riches tale of four cockney boys from Muswell Hill who dedicate their lives to their music and become international stars, and one that doesn’t shy away from some of the difficult elements that come with fame and glory – having to make personal sacrifices for the good of the band, dodging greedy middle men and dealing with troubled friendships.
The cast is superb and enviably talented in every skill imaginable. John Dagleish brings boyish charm, charisma and a whole lot of good looks to the stage as Ray Davies, an ambiguous character whom I loved for his drive and his passion and disliked for the way he treated his family. George Maguire is a joy to watch, at one point swinging from chandeliers in a pink negligee in a flamboyant portrayal of Dave Davies, and the music is, of course, terrific, and cleverly interwoven into the story. The latter was a bit too fragmented for me – there were so many elements that the overarching theme became slightly lost – and I feel as though twenty minutes could have happily been shaven off. That said, the end is worth the wait, culminating in a firework of sound, dancing, and joy – a beautiful celebration of the legacy of an outstanding British band.
Author: Joe Penhall
Director: Edward Hall
Music: Ray Davies
Box Office: 0844 871 7622
Booking Link: http://sunnyafternoonthemusical.com
Booking Until: 16 April 2016