A review of Back To The Future – The Musical

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So before the review, a quick ‘it’s all about me, me me!’ From the Grand Poobah of 5D.

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It’s difficult for me to quantify the impact of the Back to the Future movies on my pop culture psyche. The first film in particular resonated and enthralled on its initial release all those years ago – so much so that me and a pal of mine (yes, I did have friends) went to see it 5 times in its first theatrical week.
I was too young (shush) and immature (touché) at the time to appreciate the film’s practically perfect narrative in that not a single scene or moment is wasted. In fact so highly is the screenplay regarded by people who know about such things that it’s frequently used as an example of excellence in film school. The thing I was able to fully appreciate was the abundance of humour, cleverness, excitement and drama of the story – and countless viewings to this day still have the same impact.

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Yes I choose to accept the fact that many of the story’s themes are actually rather dark and somewhat twisted; a teenage boy’s only real friend is an old man who rings him up at night to meet in a deserted shopping mall car park; the boy’s father is meek no-hoper in the modern time & a sexual voyeur in his teenage years, his mother is an alcoholic; he goes back in time and experiences some Oedipus sexual yearnings from his mother; his mother is the victim of attempted rape from the local bully; the aforementioned local bully in the revised modern day timeline is employed by the family, this is despite attempting the aforementioned sexual attack on the mother back in 1955……so many issues.

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Added to that there is the incredible story of the movie being almost completed with actor Eric Stoltz in the lead role of Marty McFly, only for him to be sacked and replaced by Michael J. Fox. The result that the majority of the film had to be reshot at night to accommodate Fox’s daytime acting commitments.

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And yet despite (or possibly because of) these issues the movie is, and probably always will be in my personal top 5 fantasy films. So, you can imagine my interest (or worries) about a musical version of this classic and I’m as keen as any of you to hear the views of Maria.
So don’t mess it up, Back to the Future Musical…….don’t mess it up.
Stuart Anderson. 5d-blog.com

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Review from 5D Music writer, Maria Robertson.

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Back to the Future is a cult movie, that many of us grew up with.  My family love the films and our son was introduced to them a couple of years ago, and showed the requisite enthusiasm for them that meant we could keep him…  
Even after all these years the idea of travelling through time is still exciting and novel.  From this backdrop, the idea of a musical version was somewhat disconcerting – and intriguing.  I will declare now that my household loves a musical and we often listen to songs from them around the house, but even so the thought of changing this much loved movie into a musical was a worry.

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Worry not though, this production was carefully and sympathetically planned.  “The Bobs” who wrote the original movie were involved: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale.  Alan Silvestri wrote the score for the movie – and he and Glen Ballard did the music and lyrics for the musical.  So you could say both productions came from the same family tree, and were interlinked from the start.  There’s a total of 26 songs throughout the show, all very well written to suit the story and the character, and often using lines from the movie.  I especially loved “Put Your Mind To It” and this musical certainly proves “you can accomplish anything”.

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The casting was a worry too, again these are characters we’ve spent hours with, especially those of us who have watched the movie repeatedly, and watched all the sequels.  Obviously only Michael J Fox can be Marty McFly…or was I wrong in that presumption?!  Apparently so, Olly Dobson is a great Marty, and Hugh Coles is an utterly hilarious George McFly.  Almost a caricature version of the goofy character.  Stealing the show, for me anyway, is Roger Bart in the role of Doc Brown.  I could see it was “that actor” from Desperate Housewives and 30 Rock (both firm favourites of mine in their time) but he also utterly IS the eccentric scientist.  I’m going for the cliché I’m afraid – its like he was born for this role.  As he bumbles around muttering to himself with the occasional loudly proclaimed “Great Scot” I just wanted him to be my Grandfather…or creepy friend down the road who lets kids play in his barn!

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As for the production, well I don’t want to give spoilers as I hope you’ll get to experience it for yourself sometime, but yes there’s a Delorean and it…travels…  Oh my word, I’ve seen some amazing theatrical production before but this blew them all away, literally in some cases – you know what Doc is like!  Even the auditorium of the theatre is part of the immersive experience, with 80s gettoblasters and posters of the time.  Whilst you sit waiting for the show to start there are lights whizzing around – not just not the stage but coming out round the auditorium, its all so well done.  The Delorean zooms.. and crashes and.. obviously time travels!  Its astounding.  You even feel like you’re at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, especially when the bubbles actually land on you!  (Oops something in my eye there, what a girl!)  We were lucky enough to be in the McFly Zone right down the front so we were up close to McFly and The Pinheads when they perform (no spoiler there if you’ve seen the film, right?!).

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If you loved the movie, and you don’t want it to end but you’re a bit sceptical about another sequel, according to my calculations this is totally what you are looking for. Feel the nostalgia, relive the story, enjoy the music and just get lost in the 80s!  I wanna go back…to the Adelphi Theatre and see it again!!

Further information: https://www.backtothefuturemusical.com
Tickets: https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/back-to-the-future-the-musical/

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Maria Robertson is the newly anointed Chief Music & Theatre Writer for the 5D Pop Culture Website and provides reviews & coverage of local Aberdeen music & theatre gigs. She’s an experienced writer for numerous sources and is a self-confessed live gig addict ever since seeing The Counting Crows at the Barrowlands in 1994.

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