Tonight’s The Night is one of those cheesy, fun jukebox musicals that is a bit of a guilty pleasure.
It’s billed as The Rod Stewart Musical so, of course, the biggest disappointment is that the perma-tanned Scots rocker isn’t in it (natch).
But there is an amazingly talented cast that blow the cobwebs out of The Waterside Theatre’s lush auditorium and send you home humming your fav RS tune.
Actually there’s an overdose of talent. We have an ex-Sugarbabe who was a Eurovision entrant; rock chicks who starred in We Will Rock You and a string of top West End Shows; two musical reality TV finalists and one of the stars of the recent New Jersey Nights musical.
It also helps that Ben Elton wrote the piece. It’s very funny with some killer lines – though I’d like to have seen it set in Blighty rather than Detroit.
The story totally daft and not really integrated with the songs but that won’t deter fans of the star.
It is centred around a shy young man called Stuart who makes a Faustian pact with the Devil. He borrows Rod Stewart’s soul to enable him to have the confidence to ask out a sweet little thing called Mary.
Unfortunately as soon as Stu gets the rock vibe he leaves Mary to go off on the road, bedding girls by the score and intent on becoming a big music star.
Don’t let the whimsical story get in the way of a humming playlist. They’re all here from Gasoline Alley, Stay With Me and Maggie May to a sing-a-long Sailing.
The show’s women are powerfully good with voices so mighty that they hardly need amplification.
Jenna Lee-James, as Mary, may look a bit of a goody two shoes but she’s a blonde babe who plays the victim with real heart. She finds herself torn between two lovers and seemingly always on the losing end of Stu’s affections.
Tiffany Graves gives a great turn as the slightly jaded, done-it-all-to-excess, rock promoter, who is looking for the “next Rod Stewart” (she also appears in cameo as a pretty hot Devil).
But the man who snatches the show from under the noses of everyone, including the leading man Ben Heathcote, is Michael McKell as the ultimate axeman, Stoner.
It’s an incredibly well written role from someone who has no doubt observed many of the great rock musicians and McKell has a ball playing the ever so naughty guitarist in Stu’s band.
Think Keith Richards’ spaced out druggy voice mixed with a bit of Jagger-swagger and the bashful sauciness of Johnny Depp. He looks like a young Ewan McGregor or Marc Warren and does a good line in cheeky grins and cocking an eyebrow while delivering a shambling line of dialogue, a drink in one hand and his guitar in the other.
At one point, and I couldn’t care less if it was scripted or not, McKell corpses, collapsing with the giggles when Ricky Rojas flies on in a miniscule cameo as a camp (very camp) caterer.
The audience lap it up. I think they’d all like to take him home. Stoner’s the ultimate bad boy of rock but he plays it beautifully.
The diminutive Heathcote makes a credible Stu. He had the same rasping voice as Stewart but there were times when the live band (Matt Bayne goes wild on drums) drowns out his sometimes thin vocals.
Ricky Rojas has appeared in two leading roles at the theatre (Grease and New Jersey Nights) yet he barely got a look in, which is a shame for this charismatic performer and his fans.
But it’s hard when pretty much everyone in the ensemble is a major talent in their own right.
A great revival and a fun night’s entertainment.
Tonight’s The Night runs until Saturday. For tickets call the box office 0844 871 7607 or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.
The show visits Milton Keynes Theatre next month. for tickets and times call the box office 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes