Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Ever since it was announced that Back To The Future would be receiving a musical makeover the buzz online has been immense, with fans eager to see just how their beloved film would be recreated on stage while some theatre fans a little sniffy at the possibility of a remake.
With the film’s original creative team of Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis bringing this project from screen to stage it’s certainly fair to say Back To The Future is in very safe hands. Add to the mix Tony award-winning director John Rando and a new score from multiple Grammy-winning Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard, alongside classics from the film’s original soundtrack and any pre-nerves about the quality of the show should disappear, for anyone still unsure, strap yourself in and get yourselves down to Manchester’s Opera House for one hell of a fun ride!
This inventive production stays true to the source material with all the classic lines fans know and love making an appearance with the addition of some welcome creative surprises. Upon entering the theatre what immediately strikes you is Tim Hayley’s bold design lit spectacularly by Hugh Vanstone and Tim Lutkun, illuminating the Opera House stage, sides and ceiling which has the already excited audience positively fizzing.
Recreating such an iconic film means the stakes are unquestionably high, one thing that absolutely had to be right was the casting and boy did they get it right!
Olly Dobson is superb as Marty McFly, perfectly embodying the character fans know so well he sounds so unbelievably like Michael J Fox it’s incredible. Bursting with charisma and bucket-loads of Marty charm this hugely talented actor carries the role off with an effortless ease.
Roger Bart is sensational as Doc Brown, it’s clear to see he’s having a hell of a lot of fun with the role and takes the audience along for the ride. This is not so much an impression more his own eccentric interpretation which die-hard fans will be more than happy giving them even more reason to love the legend that is Doc Brown.
The chemistry between Dobson and Bart is an absolute joy, they bounce of each other brilliantly; their friendship entirely convincing, bringing an enormous amount of fun to this well-crafted piece.
There is strong support from the rest of the cast most notably Hugh Coles, Rosanna Hyland and Cedric Neal who play George McFly, Rosanna Hyland and Cedric Neal respectively.
Hugh Coles is absolutely adored by the audience, receiving a huge roar of approval the moment he utters his first line. So convincing is his portrayal it’s almost as if someone went back in time and grabbed him from the 1985 film. Unbelievable to think this is his professional stage debut as he has the audience rooting for him from the off.
Similarly, Rosanna Hyland convinces entirely as Lorraine Baines, a strong actress with a stunning voice her impressive Lorraine would be hard to top.
Adding a little sass to the production Cedric Neal makes the absolute most of his two roles, he’s a born entertainer and has the audience well and truly in the palm of his hand.
The strong ensemble delivers Chris Bailey’s choreography with precision whilst doubling up in various supporting roles adding some hilarious twists to famous scenes.
Then of course there is the DeLorean, WOW! When these big scenes come my goodness do they impress. The effects are nothing short of spectacular, there’s a feeling from the audience that lifelong dreams are being fulfilled with every activation of the flux capacitor, seeing really is believing, it really is an absolute must-see.
While music favourites from the original film score are greeted with affectionate applause some of the new songs do feel a little unnecessary, while they all work well and fit the story at times it feels like the drama of the piece is interrupted by the introduction of a musical number, shaving a couple wouldn’t do any harm and would allow for the dramatic tension that’s built to grow further. This is a minor quibble however on what really is a hugely impressive production.
Back To The Future The Musical feels like a theatrical event, which has West End written all over it; you know the story yet it continually surprises you, never taking itself too seriously the show delivers everything fans would expect and so much more. State-of-the-art in its delivery the show must be celebrated for bringing many new theatre goers through the doors at the Opera House, such it the appeal of this cultural phenomenon.
No fan could ever come away disappointed and new audiences will marvel at the spectacle while having a whole heap of fun along the way. It’s pure theatrical escapism which you’ll want to return to again and again, spectacular!