Tonight’s the Night
Liverpool Empire Theatre
Written by Ben Elton who wrote the Queen jukebox musical, ‘We Will Rock You’, this musical has been around since 2003 so it obviously has the right ingredients for a good evening’s entertainment. The music element consists of twenty five of Rod Stewart’s hits so, basically, it’s a tribute act on the platform of a flimsy storyline.
Set initially in a Detroit garage, it begins with our hero, the mechanic shy Stu (Ben Heathcote), dreaming of fame, fortune and girls. He is in love with Mary (Jenna Lee-James) but cannot find the courage to tell her. He wishes he could be like his idol, Rod Stewart, when lo and behold, the Devil comes to him one night in a dream and says he can trade his soul for Rod’s.
Deed done, he sets out on his new life of Rock‘n’Roll and girls, whilst the real Rod takes a turn for the worse and loses his charisma. Stu takes LA by storm, especially the girls, and although he says he still loves Mary he no longer has any time for her.
Of course it all goes horribly wrong and by the end of the evening we see it is not always good to get what we wish for but of course, like all cheesy musicals, there is a happy ending.
All the cast had great voices and although Ben’s didn’t seem to have the same gravelly tone of Rod’s, it carried the songs and his scene singing “Maggie May” whilst getting up out of bed in only his underpants made good viewing.
Jenna Lee-James as Mary had a powerful voice and the long-legged Satan/Baby Jane (Tiffany Graves) gave a fine performance of“Tonight’s the Night” with the Three Devilettes.
Stoner (Michael McKell) was every inch a caricature of some of the slimy rock stars of the era while Rocky and Dee Dee (Andy Rees and Jade Ewen), as two love struck teenagers eventually getting it together, had two of the best songs of the night with Dee Dee’s nice rendition of “What Am I Gonna Do?” and Rocky’s heartfelt version of “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”
I wondered if there was a prerequisite for all the female cast members to have long shapely legs as this seemed to be a strong feature of the dancers.
The musical had a shaky start with a technical hitch delaying the programme for a good 20 minutes and initially some unclear dialogue.
It did manage to get back on track and win the audience round and had them joining in the finale putting on their sailor hats (distributed at the entrance) to sing along to “Sailing” (not quite sure what that had to do with the script) ensuring the show ended on a high.