All or Nothing – The Mod Musical

aon1

We’ve been celebrating Mod culture for well over 50 years: the influence this movement has on music and fashion still prominent today. You only had to look at the Lambretta scooters outside the Manchester Opera House or take a look at the nifty threads some of the audience members were wearing to see how apparent this is. Clearly there is a great appetite for nostalgia and a trip down memory lane so it seems right that one of the leading lights of the Mod scene get the musical treatment.

The Small Faces were a seminal band during the mod movement, members Kenny Jones, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, and lead singer Steve Marriot formed the group in 1965, and went on to have chart success in the UK and the States: All or Nothing – The Mod Musical, not only charts the bands rise and fall but celebrates the music and culture of the swinging sixties.

aon3

The story opens with the bands demise at an infamous gig on New Year’s Eve at Alexandra Palace. It is here we are introduced to an older middle aged and tragically deceased incarnation of Marriot (Chris Simmons). Older Steve is our guide through the ups and downs of the band. Simmons is in full cheeky chappy cockney geezer mode, he is outstanding in the role of the beer socked narrator. His energy and enthusiasm shine through when the band is on the rise, which makes his decline all the more poignant, as we see the drink and drugs take hold.

Simmons performance is mirrored by Tim Edwards, who play the young Marriot, full of zest, but then with the wheels falling off begins to spiral into his own madness matching Simmons tortured performance. Edwards is ably supported by Joshua Dowen, Josh Maddison, and Drew-Levi Huntsman: fully encapsulating the spirit of being in a band, all talented musicians in their own right.

aon4

Carol Harrison, who plays Steve’s Mum also wrote and produced the production, a self confessed Mod this certainly is a love letter to this period in history; the story of success/failure being a well-worn path, the script certainly has more than enough pathos to keep you engaged. Despite the tragic tale at the heart of the production there are also some moments of comic brilliance, the sending up of Juke Box Jury and Top of the Pops being the highlights.

This is an ambitious production well matches its own lofty ambitions. From the offset the Small Faces back catalogue including All or Nothing and Tin Soldiers, as well as numbers by artists including Dusty Springfield and PP Arnold are performed with so much life and energy it’s difficult to single anyone for particular praise as they all work their socks off: however special praise must go to Daniel Beales and Russell Floyd who seem to relish playing the multiple roles done with great comic timing.

aon2

Overall this relatively new production has the perfect blend of humour and nostalgia to make for a fantastically fun night out. The show draws to a close with the cast performing a medley of The Small Faces greatest hits: which had the audience dancing in the aisles and a few lucky punters up on stage. The “Mod” culture was certainly alive and well at the Manchester Opera House tonight!

All or Nothing – The Mod Musical is at the Manchester Opera House till 22nd October.

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/all-or-nothing/opera-house-manchester/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical

aon1

Telling the story of The Small Faces rise to fame from a wannabe rhythm and blues band up until their much documented break-up on stage at Alexandra Palace, All Or Nothing is an engaging and hugely entertaining new musical.

With a book by Carol Harrison and directed by Pat Davey, All Or Nothing delves into the troubled past of a band who started out as fresh faced and full of attitude teenagers who wanted to change the ‘Mersey-beat’ scene and deliver something fresh, raw and exciting. We follow the band as they change from cheeky newcomers into a top sellers racking up iconic hits including Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Sha La La La Lee and of course All Or Nothing until years of constant working, exhausting touring, clashes of ego and general disillusionment with life at the top takes its tragic toll.

aon4

The show is narrated by an older, no longer with us, Steve Marriot (Chris Simmons) looking back at the story of his life while his younger self performs in front of him, his narration is witty, revealing and brings a great pace to the production. Thoughtful and at times nostalgic, Simmons gives an outstanding performance, we see him go from light-hearted, dancing round the stage to crumbling before our eyes as the lifestyle becomes too much for his younger self, the liquor bottle becomes his constant companion as he smokes and drinks himself past the point of no return.

The use of an on-stage narrator works extremely well, Simmons swiftly creates a warm relationship with the audience and gently guides us through his compelling tale.

aon2

The four cast members playing The Small Faces are excellent, Kenney Jones, (Drew-Levi Huntsman) Ian McClagan (Joshua Maddison), Ronnie Lane (Joshua Dowen) and Steve Marriot (Tim Edwards). All four act and play throughout, their musical pieces are tight and their scenes together authentic from bright-eyed wannabee hit makers to worn out and irritated popstars, each cast member gives their absolute all.

Special mention must go to Carol Harrison who as well as writing the book delivers a moving performance as Kay Marriot, mother of Steve. Carol delivers not only comedy and plenty of laugh out loud moments but also emotional and intense moments as she sees the tragedy that is unfolding before her.

aon3

Rebecca Brower’s set is simple and effective, allowing the music and story to take centre stage here. This isn’t a musical with narrative dropped in around it; it’s a well written play which uses the music of its subject to great effect. With authentic 60’s clothing as well as props this is a piece that has been developed with true love and affection. The ensemble are excellent, playing various roles with some great comedic timing. The audience lapped up the witty jokes and cheeky quips and many a sound of recognition was heard as the cast kicked into one of The Small Faces classics. All Or Nothing makes for a fabulous night out, fun, feisty and totally fabulous!

On at Buxton Opera House until Weds 5th Oct

Manchester Opera House 18th Oct – 22nd Oct

http://www.allornothingthemusical.com/tickets.html