Tonight's the Night
Ben Elton, music by Rod Stewart
Sunderland Empire & Touring
One thing I knew even before this show began is that Rod Stewart has one hell of a following, so I had no doubt the packed audience around me came to love the music of Hot Rod! However we can all buy a CD and sit and listen to the man on a comfy sofa at home, so tonight was the night for what? Something more than a Greatest Hits CD?
Tonight's the Night is the story of a shy mechanic from Detroit, Stuart Clutterbuck, whose lack of self confidence and inability to look any woman in the eye prevents him from confessing his love for the beautiful Mary. Unable to cope with the love that he fears is out of his reach Stuart makes a deal with the devil. That deal is to swap his soul with his hero Rod Stewart and make him a sex and rock god! Only being a rock god may not be everything it's made out to be, causing his love to drift further out of reach.
Ben Elton is the man behind the script for this musical, having already penned The Beautiful Game and the current West End hit We Will Rock You. Elton, known to many as a stand up, writer and creator of such hit comedy series as The Young Ones, Filthy Rich and Catflap and Blackadder, drops the ball here on his third musical. After such excellent work with Andrew Llyod Webber on The Beautiful Game he has left his craft for intelligent comedy behind and used cheap gags in a weakly plotted wafer-thin script. A script with a relationship without resolution and a terribly rushed ending: the Elton of old seems absent from Tonight's the Night!
For anyone who isn't a fan of Rod Stewart, do not fear as the musical arrangements by Colin Townes are wonderful. Working the sound of Stewart perfectly into the musical theatre style, Townes has formed the songs perfectly. With an excellent band that got one of the biggest cheers of the night, these tunes went down a delight!
What made the songs punch out even more was the superb voice of Ryan Molloy playing Stuart Clutterbuck. This man was every bit a rock star, with a voice and swagger that had women sitting open mouthed throughout. Playing the love of his life, Mary, was the beautiful faced and beautiful voiced Rachel Tucker who was such a delight. Molloy and Tucker sang and performed with such heart and passion that Rod Stewart should take a look and up his game. Molloy and Tucker are supported well by a competent cast, but special mention must go to Jeff Edwards (Stoner) and Kristina Paraskeva (Dee Dee).
Edwards merges all our great Rock and Roll stars of the sixties and seventies into one man with such cockney comedy clout, teasing the audience which was in the palm of his hand everytime he was on stage. Paraskeva plays the out of love Dee Dee, the girl next door who desires to be in the heart of Rocky, who alas loves another. Paraskeva gives a sweet performance with great voice, shown in a number when she is calling out for the love of her Rocky.
The direction and choreography was not very inspiring, with very basic movement and dancing that offered nothing I hadn't seen before. The dances where fine when backing the singers, nice movement that doesn't distract from the performers, but when it came time to shine, it was a little too dull to open my eyes.
Tonight's the Night offers a script with about as much drama as an episode of Hollyoaks but does offer a great cast with superb voices and a knockout performance from Ryan Molloy. So if you don't mind sitting back and singing along with some great talent backed by cracking band playing rocking tunes, then Tonight's the Night will be the night for you!
Reviewer: Wayne Miller