Today is St Patrick’s Day and I celebrated by seeing the West End smash hit musical ‘The Commitments’ set in Dublin at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre. Firstly, the story. So a man sets up a band and they’re terrible and then they suddenly become the best around. That is it. Literally! If you’re looking for an in-depth theatrical performance, this really isn’t it but if you’re looking for a good night out, this certainly is your answer.
From the opening number, its evident that this show is all about the music and that is going to be two hours crammed full with soul classics. I wouldn’t say its a musical in any way as you could take the music out and the story is still identical (even though its nearly non-existent) so i’d say its more of a concert that is tied together with a loose, comical story.
That aside, what a show! Brian Gilligan carries the entire show with a voice that fills you with energy and soul, making you want to get up and join him. He really is a treat to watch and gets the entire theatre rocking with complete ease. But then so do ALL of the cast – each member brings something different to the script and they unite to create a sound that is rarely created recently with vocals that knock you right into the back of your seat. The script clearly isn’t written to tell a story but it delivers line after line of pure comedy that’s portrayed with perfect timing.
Now, I have never seen the film and only had a small knowledge of the music that is in the show so I was incredibly surprised with the catalogue of tunes that forms this show – with each one highlighting individual cast members talents. The three girls of the group (Amy Penston, Leah Penston and Christina Tedders) are immense and they’re voices beat any girl band to ever hit the charts. Each one has a genuine soul to their vocal chords and their harmonies are something else!
Audiences at shows like this are quite often my worst nightmare (Bob Marley musical One Love for example) but tonight was a breath of fresh air with a sedate audience that were there to enjoy the show (and not the bar before and after). This is a testament to the show as everyone was clearly there to enjoy the soundtrack, showing how important the music still is to people today.
The scenery to this show is clunky and in tatters but it works so well and seems to add to the whole context of the show. The lighting designer has took a risk of lighting the entire show as if there is just a small rig in the community hall available, somehow a good job has still been achieved through intelligent lighting that flows with the fast pace of the script, keeping us on our toes throughout.
The sound is worth the ticket price alone. Incredible! Despite the occasional dodgy accent and the thinness of the story, this show is packed full of music that fills you with energy that you rarely feel nowadays. And the talent that graces the stage in front of you is astonishing.
★★★★ an irresistible romp full of soul.
The Commitments runs until tomorrow at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. To book, click here.