In 1985 ‘Back to the Future’ was a box office sensation that spurned two sequels and has stood the test of time as a classic favourite.
If you didn’t grow up watching this series of movies – one, go see them and two, those who did are still huge fans. This means there is a ready audience for a theatre adaptation; but to live up to expectations, the show must be good.
The team behind this stage version gives a clue of what to expect. The book is by Bob Gale, one of the original writers of the films – he had the Midas touch before, and we have no reason to doubt he’s lost it now. But that still leaves the question of the music – how is this time-travelling story going to be staged as a musical?
Multiple Grammy Award Winners, Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard have composed 16 original songs for the show, which are largely pop with a couple of Gospel inspired numbers for The Voice semi-finalist, Cedric Neal’s character, Goldie Wilson. There are no instantly catchy numbers, but the lyrics are full of humour and keep the show bouncing along. And the nostalgia pump kicks in with Huey Lewis and the News’ hits The Power of Love and Back in Time.
Tim Hatley’s absorbing set design stretches the full depth of the theatre stage, with a stunning mix of stage set, projection and special effects. I won’t spoil any surprises, but the entrance of the DeLorean time-machine catches everyone by surprise and that is just the start of this thrilling ride.
Tony-award winner, Roger Bart has the perfect mix of eccentricity and humour as madcap inventor Doc Brown. His onstage chemistry with Olly Dobson as young Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox in the movie version, quickly draws us into the story. Doc has created a time-travelling machine and Marty tries it out, crashing back in time 30 years where he meets his teenage parents and almost changes the course of his own history.
To get back to the future he has to find Doc and work out how to get DeLorean to start up again. All the main scenes and many of the famous lines of the movie are there, delivered with terrific support performances from Rosanna Hyland and Hugh Coles as Marty’s parents Lorraine and George. After graduating in 2017 Coles has stacked up several screen credits but this is his stage debut and it is a confident assured one that wins him cheers each time he appears.
It is clear the audience is loving every second. It feels fun, familiar and escapist at a time when so much seems uncertain. But whether you’re a fan of the films or you’re completely new to the story this new musical is a helluva ride. So, strap yourself in and enjoy, because as Doc would say, ‘Great Scott! It’s good.★ ★ ★ ★ ★