I was given these tickets for review purposes!
I promise that in no way affects my opinion of the show.
I recently went along to a press night at the Adelphi Theatre to see the brand new, futuristic yet nostalgic hit show Back to the Future – The Musical!
I was so excited to go and see one of my favourite movies turned into an all-singing all-dancing production, with one of my best pals. We had a delightful plant-based pre-show dinner at Mildred’s Covent Garden, before strolling down to the Adelphi to join the bustling queue for the door. We’d been to this particular theatre before to see Kinky Boots, so it held happy memories for us both and we were excited to see how this new show fit within it. I’d been told by friends who’d seen it that being in the audience ‘felt like you were on a rollercoaster’, and that it was very true to the 1989 film while also mixing it up a little for the stage.
Anyway… what’s the story? Read on – and see if you can spot any differences to the original movie!
Welcome to Hill Valley, California! It’s 1985 – and angsty teenager Marty McFly’s in big trouble. Not only is his family in financial turmoil and not vibing in the best way, his band’s just been rejected for a big gig, too. Enter eccentric scientist Doc Brown, Marty’s mad inventor friend who’s just created a time machine out of a DeLorean sports car. It’s powered by Plutonium, tricked out of the hands of international terrorists. What could possibly go wrong? Well, when the Plutonium proves to be more dangerous than expected, Marty has to make things right by jumping in the DeLorean and finding help… in 1955. But in doing so, he’s unwittingly changing the entire course of history.
Now, it’s a race against time for Marty McFly to fix the present, escape from the past and somehow get himself… back to the future.
Okay, let’s dive right in here. I’d heard great things about many musical numbers in this production, and it seems the public favourite is the iconic school dance scene towards the end – containing the infamous line which has very recently become a meme, “I’m not sure if you’re ready for that yet… but your kids are gonna love it”. I can confirm, that scene slapped. Can scenes slap? Well, this one sure did. But a pleasant surprise for me was Goldie Wilson’s aspirational number, ‘Gotta Start Somewhere’ – I wanted to jump out of my seat and bop! It might have to go on my ‘get up and at ‘em’ Spotify playlist, actually…
Another number I really enjoyed but for a different reason was ‘Put Your Mind to It’, performed by George and Marty McFly. It was the perfect mix of comedy and irony; a teenage son imparting some wisdom to his socially awkward dad on how to be successful with the ladies – and generally more comfortable and confident in life!
There’s no question. It’s the Doc. How could it not be? Closely followed by George McFly – but we’ll get to him in a moment.
This musical was, I’d say, 88% true to the movie. Which was impressive! And Roger Bart definitely played Doctor Emmett Brown the way we all knew him, but he put his own unique spin on the character too. I would bet that he improvised a lot and played off the other actors’ presences; there were moments when he was just so impossibly silly and hilarious, it couldn’t have been written down.
My date for the evening, Louise Jones, remarked that he had a bit of Jim Carey about him. And Charlie Day, I offered. Definitely some Robin Williams in there, too. But he not only comprises three comic legends; the man himself is kind of a huge deal, too. I’ll admit I only realised just how huge after the show when I was on the late train home. I beg you to look him up; Roger Bart is an absolute legend, and I guarantee you’ll have seen or heard him somewhere before. Any Disney Hercules fans in the house, for instance…?
Now, George McFly. AKA, Oliver Nicholas. Truly, an incredible characterisation. I couldn’t fault it. He was spot on, exactly as the dorky dad/hapless teenager had been in the film – right down to the awkward stuttering laugh. Jimmy Carr could never! I also enjoyed Marty (Ben Joyce)’s comic timing, Lorraine (Amber Davies)’s brazenness, and Goldie Wilson (Jordan Benjamin) generally just made me happy.
The thing itself.
This show has been adapted from the iconic 1980s movie for the stage by the film’s creators, Bob Gale (Back to the Future trilogy) and Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump). The creative team includes Tony Award winning director, John Rando, double Tony and Olivier award winning set and costume designer Tim Hatley, with lighting design by Olivier Award winner Tim Lutkin.
It’s always tricky to make a musical out of a movie – much harder than it is to do the reverse – let alone one as huge and iconic as this one, but these guys pulled it off.
As someone who grew up watching this movie (it was one of my mama’s faves, when she was a teen), I was so excited and very curious to see how it had been adapted for the theatre. I mean, there are certain scenes that surely can’t translate to stage!? (spoiler alert) …Doc climbing up the clock tower? George falling out of a tree and getting hit by a car? The mega amp blasting Marty across the room? Doc being shot by terrorists? And what about Einstein the dog?!
Well, obviously certain things had to be reworked or omitted in the adaptation from screen to stage – for instance, Einstein did not appear at any point, nor was the Doc shot with a machine gun. But the clock tower climb did happen! So did the amp blast! And George did really leer at Lorraine from a tree outside her window… yikes. I won’t reveal how they accomplished all of these arguably tricky feats because I’d hate to spoil anything for those of you booking in to see it soon, but it was so impressive how creatively it was done. Major props to the team. Especially for the explosive ending… like, wow.
Have you seen this production yet? What about the movie? I’d love to hear how you feel it compares. Either comment below, or tweet me!
Get your fine futuristic selves down to Adelphi ASAP to see this wild ride of a production! It’s 2 hours 40 mins, including an interval. Tickets start at £23 when you buy them through From the Box Office!
The show includes flashing lights, strobe effects, smoke and pyrotechnics throughout. Anyone aged under 16 to be accompanied by an adult 18+. Anyone aged 16 or 17 are allowed to attend by themselves, however, they cannot act as the adult for anyone under 16.
Audio Described performance – Sunday 2 October 2022
Captioned – Wednesday 9 November 2022
See you for the next review!