the creators of Back to the Future: The Musical they weren’t taking any chances.
The production, fresh off Broadway after a London engagement that earned it a 2022 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, opens with the rousing main theme from the 1985 film’s score, drawing loud cheers from the audience. The book, with a few minor exceptions, recreates the script beat for beat and in some cases line for line. And the performances closely resemble those of the film’s lead actors, with Hugh Coles, playing Marty McFly’s father George, imitating Crispin Glover so closely it’s hard to tell if he’s a tribute or an appropriation.
None of this is surprising, considering that original co-writer Bob Gale has written the book for the musical and original composer Alan Silvestri, in collaboration with Glen Ballard (Ghost, jagged small pill), your score. That is amazing is how effective and fun it all is.
It was easy to be cynical about this latest screen-to-stage musical adaptation, considering the spate of equally unoriginal shows that have in many cases crashed and burned on Broadway in recent years. And truth be told Back to the Future: The Musical, despite that Olivier Award, doesn’t exactly break new creative ground. Even fans of the show, and there will be many, are unlikely to play the cast recording more than once, as the best song of the night is Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” featuring “The Power of of Huey Lewis” and The News. Love” a close second.
What gets everyone most excited, of course, is the car: the time-traveling, scientifically enhanced and upgraded DeLorean that figures so prominently in the film’s plot. Needless to say, the vehicle receives the biggest ovation of the night when it appears on stage, and the finale of the show, in which it flies over the audience (with an added surprise not to be revealed here), sends the crowd off. in a massive halt. It’s not the first flying car to appear on Broadway, but it leaves the one in chitty chitty explosion explosion in the dust
For those unfamiliar with the hit movie and its two sequels (all five or six of you), the story is about teenager Marty McFly (Casey Likes, recently seen on Broadway recreating another film role in almost famous), who inadvertently goes back 30 years in time to 1955 thanks to the time travel machine created by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Roger Bart, channeling Christopher Lloyd but coming up with his own hilarious trick).
There he meets the younger version of Doc, who warns him that he is in danger of canceling his own existence because his presence in the past is altering the future. Specifically, he has to make sure that the younger version of her mother Lorraine (Liana Hunt), who has fallen in love with her own son, falls in love with her father-to-be. The task is not an easy one, as George, chronically shy and clumsy, can’t even muster the courage to ask her to the school dance and is constantly harassed by Biff (Nathaniel Hackmann) and her cronies.
It’s a terribly funny and entertaining story that works almost as well on stage as it does on film, though the original songs, as is often the case with these adaptations, mostly seem superfluous. Not that they’re that bad, mind you. Some of them are quite catchy, like the 1950s girl group homage “Something About That Boy,” the uplifting “Gotta Start Somewhere,” and the playful “21st Century,” the latter performed by Doc and the ensemble featuring a kind of Devo- as if something happened. The musical numbers, with lively choreography by Chris Bailey, are generally soulful but, as you can probably tell by the song titles, the lyrics are strictly of the generic variety.
Where the show stops is with its technical elements, which include dazzling projections, special effects (Chris Fisher is credited as “Illusion Designer”), and innovative sound and lighting designs to give the production the feel of a theme song. , which is not surprising here. -park attraction. But as Broadway theme park attraction shows go, and there have been many, this one really impresses, with the sides and ceiling of the cavernous Winter Garden festooned with lights and video projections that make you feel like you’re inside. of a giant computer.
Director John Rando, no stranger to stage musical comedy (urinetown, mr. saturday night, He wedding singer), gives the fast-paced proceedings a necessarily light and goofy air that produces plenty of genuinely funny moments (and some groan-inducing ones, too). The hard-working actors do their best to live up to their film predecessors, which in some cases isn’t easy. Who, after all, could be as handsome and charismatic as the young Michael J. Fox? But Casey Likes lives up to his name by being thoroughly likeable and energetic, while Bart is a consistent hoot as the mad scientist with a warm heart. Hunt is attractive as the young woman who is head over heels for her future child, and Jelani Remy gives an exuberant turn as Goldie Wilson, the film’s reinforced role. But the standout is Coles, the sole British holdover from the London production, who somehow manages to convey the utter weirdness of Crispin Glover while also making the character of him ridiculously attractive.
Back to the Future: The Musical should be titled more precisely Back to the past with his slavish adherence to his cinematic inspiration. But when it’s done with that much spirit, it’s hard to complain. And even if you don’t like the show, you’ll love the nostalgia-inducing merchandise for sale in the lobby.
Venue: Winter Garden Theater (New York)
Cast: Roger Bart, Casey Likes, Hugh Coles, Liana Hunt, Jelani Remy, Nathaniel Hackmann, Merritt David Janes, Mikaela Secada, Amber Ardolino, Will Branner, Victoria Byrd, Brendon Chan, Kevin Curtis, Nick Drake, Samuel Gerber, Marc Heitzman , Kimberly Immanuel, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, Hannah Kevitt, JJ Niemann, Becca Petersen, Emma Pittman, Jonalyn Saxer, Blakely Slaybaugh, Gabi Stapula, and Daryl Tofa
Book: Bob Gale
Music and lyrics: Alan Silvestri, Glen Ballard
Director: John Rando
Choreographer: Chris Bailey
Designer: Tim Hatley
Sound Designer: Gareth Owen
Lighting Designers: Tim Lutkin, Hugh Vanstone
Video Designer: Finn Ross
Illusion Designer: Chris Fisher
Orchestrations: Ethan Popp, Bryan Crook
Presented by Colin Ingram, Donovan Mannato, Tom Viertel/ Steven Baruch/ Marc Routh/ Richard Frankel, Hunter Arnold, Playing Field, Robert L. Hutt, Ivy Herman/Hallee Adelman, Teresa Tsai, Bob McLynn, Gavin Kalin, Kimberly Magarro, Crush Music, Universal Theatrical Group, Sony Masterworks, Augury, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, in association with Neil Gooding Productions, Ricardo Marques, James L. Nederlander