Back to the Future: The Musical review – entertaining show takes things to 88mph

·4-min read
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Back to the Future: The Musical has finally raced into London's West End at the Adelphi Theatre after an unintended delay and it could prove to be the perfect show for your first theatre trip back.

While not a slavish recreation of the iconic 1985 movie, it follows the same structure as disillusioned teenager Marty McFly is accidentally transported back to 1955 in a time-travelling DeLorean. There, he must reunite with Doc Brown and get his help to return to 1985. But not before Marty makes sure his parents fall in love to save his own existence.

We'd understand if there was some fan scepticism about making Back to the Future into a musical. However, with the movie's creators Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis both on board, this isn't some cash-in job and has clearly been crafted with love for the original and with plenty of treats for fans.

Some elements have understandably had to be altered, such as there being a different reason for Doc's life being in the balance in 1985. Yet it's still absolutely Back to the Future. A large part of this is down to the excellent lead performances from Roger Bart and Olly Dobson as Doc and Marty, respectively.

Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Crucially, the two actors aren't doing a straight impression of Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox. They make the characters their own, but with enough of the mannerisms of the original pair to ensure you know you're watching Doc and Marty. It might take a bit of adjustment for fans, yet that quickly passes.

The leading duo is backed by a talented ensemble that includes Cedric Neal in an expanded role for Goldie Wilson, Rosanna Hyland as Marty's mother Lorraine and an endearingly awkward Hugh Coles as Marty's father George.

While Back to the Future fans will absolutely get more out of the musical, including Easter eggs to pick up on repeat visits, it will still prove enjoyable to newcomers. As long as you can accept the instantaneous whoops that will likely greet the first appearance of Marty and Doc on stage, the show isn't too meta or self-referential to be inaccessible to newbies.

Where Back to the Future: The Musical is slightly let down is in the songs that are now used to tell the story of Doc and Marty. In the moment, they're enjoyable and backed by terrific choreography and staging, but you might struggle to recall them after watching the show.

Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

There are 26 songs, including reprises, across the show and even though it's not a sung-through musical, they come at a rapid pace. A couple of songs aside (Doc Brown's ballad 'For the Dreamers', for one), they are very similar and fairly standard musical exposition efforts.

For some people, the fact that a musical doesn't have a stone-cold banger (or several earworms) might be a fatal flaw. However, Back to the Future: The Musical absolutely delivers on other aspects to make it a true spectacle of a show.

With 300 million LED pixels and 1.5km of pixel tape around the auditorium, this isn't a subtle show in any way. It's large-scale entertainment whether it's the dance numbers or the DeLorean itself, which gets an incredible 'how the hell did they do that?' coup de théâtre in the second act.

Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

So while you might not get the next 'Defying Gravity' or 'One Day More', you'll be entertained by the innovative stagecraft and spectacular visuals. Coupled with all the Back to the Future heart and humour you'd want, it proves to be a potent mix for a musical that takes things all the way to 88mph.

How to buy Back to the Future: The Musical tickets

Due to huge demand, Back to the Future: The Musical has extended its run at London's Adelphi Theatre to July 3, 2022.

You can buy tickets from the likes of LW Theatres, From the Box Office, LOVETheatre and London Theatre Direct. Prices start from £19.55 and group bookings are available up to October 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Tickets are currently on sale for all performances with shows every night (except Tuesdays and Sundays) at 7.30pm and matinee performances at 2.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and at 3pm on Sundays.

Over the Christmas period (December 13 to January 9), there is an increased number of matinee performances. All information on the schedule can be found on the musical's official website.

Back to the Future: The Musical is now playing at London's Adelphi Theatre until July 3, 2022.

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