Reviewed by Linda Curtain
What better way is there to shake off the January blues than an evening of energising soul music and the Theatre Royal Plymouth certainly has that this week with the arrival of the stage production of ‘The Commitments’.
On stage this week in Plymouth as part of their national tour, this musical extravaganza is based on the well known novel and film written by Roddy Doyle and is jam packed with easily recognisable and loved songs from the 50’s and 60’s.
Plymouth Theatre Royal is well recognised as a venue that secures a wide variety of quality productions and musicals are always a favourite with audiences. With a near sell out opening night, this show is no exception. Situated on the main Royal Parade, access and parking are problem free and a warm welcome always waits you from the front of house staff. The foyer and coffee shop were extremely busy last evening with people enjoying a pre-show drink – maybe trying their new range of ‘cronuts’ (a combination of croissants and doughnuts!) which looked delicious!!
Basically, The Commitments is the story of how Dubliner – Jimmy Rabbitte – forms a soul music band from a group of amateur musicians. Throughout the show you get to witness how they progress until eventually personalities clash and their individual ambitions lead to the ultimate collapse of what could have been a successful enterprise.
The music is definitely the highlight of the show, with the production packed full of over twenty 50’s and 60’s classics such as River Deep Mountain High, Mustang Sally, Knock on Wood and a wonderful rendition of Try a Little Tenderness.
The cast of talented performers certainly gave their all throughout the show with fantastic vocals both in the group and individual numbers. Ian McIntosh as Deco has an amazing vocal range and delivered his solos with such strength and passion. James Killeen as Jimmy worked hard to keep the band together and his commitment and belief in the group was evident. A great trio of backing singers supported the group and it was good to see how their confidence grew as the group became more established – Clara Mackey’s solo singing was fantastic. In addition to the music, the comedy element supplied by Ronnie Yorke as Mickah -the band’s skinhead security man and Nigel Pivaro (known by many as Terry Duckworth from Coronation Street) as Jimmy’s Da, lifted the script.
Each actor portrayed their role well in addition to playing their own instruments. The saxophone playing from Callum Martin – who was understudy in the role of Dean last evening – was superb.
The set design was very clever with an unfolding set to show the different venues without having to move the actual scenery.
And what a finale! The songs and enthusiasm just kept coming for a 20+ minute concert-like ending to the show which saw the whole audience up on their feet dancing and singing to an array of iconic songs.
Certainly a night to remember. An uplifting production full of soul classics performed by an enthusiastic and talented cast.
Tickets cost from £18.00
The Commitments is at Theatre Royal Plymouth until 28th January
For more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com