The Wolverhampton Grand took a step back in time and turned into a powerhouse concert as the story of iconic British band The Kinks came to life on stage.
Described as making “revolutionary” music, the Kinks’ front man Ray Davis made history with his authentic voice and charismatic ways as the band grew to success after their first single You Really Got Me. Not your usual jazz hands and kick lines musical, but Sunny Afternoon stands out from other jukebox musicals as it feels real and genuine, and the story has a strong narrative. Whilst the band clash and argue, it’s their brotherhood that drives the storyline as the four working class boys become a worldwide sensation.
Ryan O’Donnell takes on the role of Ray Davis, and not only does he have the smooth yet powerful vocals but he captures the essence of Ray excellently. Familiar with Ray’s style and swagger, O’Donnell oozes sex appeal in his roles yet displays his vulnerability well. His relationship with the young Bradford girl Rasa (Lisa Wright) plays a central role in the story, as early in the relationship he finds out she is expecting, he matures rapidly. The relationship between the boys is a temperamental one, as they struggle through legal issues with management. They all appear to lack the intelligence required to make an informed decision as they bicker and create arguments. Mark Newman stands out with his comedic touch on the role of Dave Davis, although he manages to capture the tragic elements of Dave and his struggles with fame superbly.
The musical talent of the lads is outstanding, as they master the characterisation while playing their instruments and providing immense amount of passion and power. The cast impress with their natural performance that spans across all the disciplines of musical theatre and musicianship. Adam Cooper’s choreography also wows with its tightly packed seamless movement that transitions the scenes effortlessly. It’s an impressive production in regards to staging, as the stage walls are created with amplifiers and the scenes move tightly with the performance.
The dialogue is quick-witted and forms the characters well creating an engaging performance. Although it’s a long musical that is fleshed out with the Kink’s most famous hits such as Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Waterloo Sunset, Sunny Afternoon and All Day and All of the Night, the production has impeccable pace and moves swiftly in order to maintain a compelling performance.
At the end we are transported into New York’s famous Madison Square Garden and the energy is truly electric – creating an atmosphere I’ve never felt in a theatre before. Whilst Kinks fans will adore the music, musical theatre fans will recognise their hits and adore the theatrical elements that have all been combined to create this tremendous production.
On at the Wolverhampton theatre until the 22nd of April, tickets can be found here.