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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Back To The Future The Musical Review | Opera House | Manchester

Doc and Marty are taking Opera House audiences back to the 50’s to change the course of history. The foundations of the beloved 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd remain, however, the franchise is preserving its original trilogy by rebooting the famous duo into musical territory, with a vibrant, original score.

The tale takes its teenage lead Marty McFly, the quirky professor Emmett “Doc” Brown and their souped-up DeLorean, on a time-travelling adventure to reinstate the lowly life of Marty’s father. But, their playful mission to drop in on Marty’s teenage parents and repair his family's future does generate some unexpected consequences and fantastic musical interludes along the way. Between the Doc’s quantum energy and McFly’s sweet guitar skills, the music practically writes itself, yet original writer Bob Gale has taken the initiative to revamp parts of the familiar screenplay. The epic production brings an overhanging set design to the Opera House theatre, expanding out into the stalls for a stunning light display. With sweeping scenery that effectively moves the fast cuts between Marty’s family life and the musicals fantasy sequences, the show manages to merge 80’s ballads and space uniforms for more than a nostalgic kick.

Reminding audiences of the 34-year-old film, the musical pays homage to its beloved characters without feeling quite as sentimental to its storyline. Six-time Grammy Award winner, Glen Ballard and three-time Grammy winner, Alan Silvestri collaborate on the music and inject a spirited soundtrack that offers that new sound we’ve all been lookin' for. Striking a balance that plays with familiar, the show's ensemble gathers to watch Marty perform Johnny B. Goode, alongside the fantastic live band hidden by the pit. But the song, Hello – Is Anybody Home? and Something About That Boy offers plenty of originality. Robert Zemeckis and Gale’s production manages to preserve all the memorable moments, with minor adjustments to keep the revival creative and distinctive from its film.

Transformed by a blond wig and a lab coat, Tony award-winner Roger Bart has shapeshifted into the quick-thinking Doc. Performing with all the enthusiasm required to take on the excentric physicist, Bart’s quick-footed choreography for the pseudoscience song It Works helps to showcase the lively, comedic rebirth of the world-renowned scientist. Olly Dobson gives a cool nod to Marty, embracing a believable J. Fox impression and adding his sparkling vocals to the films Oscar-nominated song The Power Of Love and, of course, Back In Time. Surprisingly, even shelved characters injected into the original narrative are given terrific tracks to perform. Cedric Neal (Goldie Wilson) takes us to church with Gotta Start Somewhere, and Courtney-Mae Briggs (Jennifer Parker) smoothly performs a newbie named Pretty Baby.

The passionate performances relayed for dedicated Back to the Future fans makes revisiting the past a rose-tinted love affair. Director John Rando uses floor to ceiling projections and digital displays to stretch the audience’s imagination, presenting all the special effects required from its innovative film. The fiery bolt of lightning, flying DeLorean and futuristic hoverboard all make an appearance without provoking the audience to riot. However, the story is largely shaped by its duo's personalities, and they clearly have a bright future ahead of them.


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