‘Back To The Future: The Musical’ Has Triumphant Special Effects: Review

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3 Stars Back To The Future: The Musical
Image Credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

★★★✰✰

Back To The Future: The Musical was a fairly unique experience. Being a brand new musical, I had no idea what to expect from the music. I wasn’t massively familiar with the film either, having only seen it the night before the show, so I went in with no expectations.

Based on the cult 1985 film of the same name, Back To The Future: The Musical follows teenager Marty McFly, who is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 when his friend, Dr Emmett Brown (Doc), builds a time machine into a DeLorean car. Whilst there, he disrupts his parents’ first meeting and has to find a way to get them together, in order to avoid being erased from history.

First and foremost, the special effects were unbelievable. Executing time travel on stage is a mammoth task, but the effects team did a great job. Chris Fisher’s illusions, Finn Ross’s videography and Tim Lutkin and Hugh Vanstone’s lighting combine perfectly to make a truly immersive experience. The final time travel sequence is extraordinarily done, with the video projections being particularly noteworthy.

The costumes and set design by Tim Hatley (who previously worked on Shrek The Musical) are also exquisite, capturing the musical’s dual eras perfectly.

There are definitely two standouts in the cast: Roger Bart (as Doc) and Hugh Coles (as George McFly) with Coles making his West End debut in this show. Admittedly, there was some surprise at seeing Bart’s name in the programme—having known him best for his role in Desperate Housewives. However, this was completely forgotten the instant Bart came on stage because he captures Doc’s character perfectly. His comedic timing is impeccable and his singing is laudable. He also, without a doubt, has the best one-liners of the show.

Coles, meanwhile, was absolutely perfect as George McFly. He wonderfully captures the character’s awkwardness, has impeccable comedic timing and definitely got some of the biggest laughs in the show. His mannerisms were also on point. If this show is any indication, he certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

The rest of the cast do a stellar job, too, with lead Olly Dobson giving an energetic and charismatic performance as Marty McFly. Rosanna Hyland as Lorraine Baines also pitches her performance perfectly, switching effortlessly between the downtrodden older Lorraine and the rebellious younger version of her character.

Despite the stellar casting—and excellent production value—the music lets Back To The Future down considerably. There are some more memorable numbers: Lorraine’s solo number ‘Pretty Baby’ and the group number ‘Gotta Start Somewhere’ led by Goldie Brown come to mind. However, other numbers like ‘Teach Him A Lesson’ and ’21st Century’ feel kind of redundant as they are not particularly strong lyrically and don’t add much to the overall plot.

The cast do a good job with what they have, but the lack of a big showstopper definitely hurts. Unfortunately, Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard’s original music pales in comparison to the covers of big songs like ‘The Power of Love’. It also doesn’t help that the show is almost three hours long. Going for quality rather than quantity of songs would have helped tremendously.

Overall Back To The Future is absolutely a fun show and an entertaining night out. However, as a musical, the show definitely falls quite a way short of some of the greats, like Wicked or Hamilton. But this show is still worth a visit, for its fabulous production value and special effects—if nothing else.

Tickets are available for Back To The Future: The Musical at The Adelphi Theatre now.

Words by Jo Elliott


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