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Back to the Future the Musical

Music and lyrics by Glen Ballard & Alan Silvestri, Book by Bob Gale
Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London until July 3, 2022
Reviewed by Alex Kolton
Published on October 8, 2021

Back to the Future the Musical Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly, with DeLorean. PHOTO: SEAN EBSWORTH BARNES

During the lockdown we took in so much content. We all became discerning viewers, critics even, and if we are going to pull ourselves off the couch and into the West End it has to be for an unforgettable theatrical experience. Back to the Future the Musical is working hard to be a pleaser.

BTTF the Musical began its ride from movie to book to stage in February 2012, finally opening eight years later in March 2020, then closing almost immediately due to Covid and reopening now at the Adelphi Theatre. The lobby is dressed up with retro Americana signage and inside the theater you are surrounded by millions of LED pixels with pinging circuit boards and harbingers such as images of the glowing Flux Capacitor. If you know what that is, then you have seen the movie. If not, that’s okay too as the plot is refreshingly simple which allows you to delve into the characters. It is understandable that we measure a musical production against the movie, but you don’t really have to, let’s look at the musical, on its own merits.

There would be torch and pitchfork protests if there weren’t large, loud sounds and flashing lights, and the DeLorean just has to fly. The car is certainly a headliner, brought to you by the award-winning team at Twins FX who pull off the spectacularly elaborate illusions. Often overlooked and crucial to a show like this, the lighting and special effects teams led by Tim Lutkin add tremendous punch to the scenes. The wardrobe is well procured - all 1950s sweater sets and 1980s high-waisted jeans - but Marty McFly in the movie wore Nike Bruins not the Nike Classic Cortez, and there's no sign of Doc’s Air Mags! (We're trying not to compare, just a geeky footnote.)

Lots of celebs are loving this show. Stunning radio and ITV presenter Jenni Falconer and BBC Journalist Asad Ahmad were in attendance, and we learned that Keith Lemon is a massive fan of the movie. There's even a Michael J. Fox UK fan club.

There is a Mel Brooks panache in the witty songs, sidebars of dancing girls and camp effects that add a dimension of jocularity. It was amusing to learn that when creator Bob Zemeckis's wife saw Mel Brook’s production of The Producers on Broadway, she suggested taking BTTF to the stage. That production of The Producers starred Roger Bart, who has gone on to play Doc Brown in this production of BTTF the Musical, his West End debut.

Bart embodies the character of Doc with sublime physical and comedic timing. It's an innovative version of the character, most certainly not a copycat of Christopher Lloyd from the movie. Refreshingly the show is acting led, more so than the songs, which makes it easy to absorb.

We can’t go back in time at the moment but what the world needs now is togetherness and experiences and theater tickets are a perfect birthday or Christmas gift. Support one of Britain’s greatest industries!

Back to the Future the Musical Back to the Future the Musical. PHOTO: SEAN EBSWORTH BARNES




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