The beautiful fusion of rock music and drama has become more consistent and successful as more groundbreaking bands are now entering the world of musical theatre. Both are unique forms of performing arts that have always managed to evolve to fit into every new generation. After seeing success from musicals featuring bands such as Queen and Green Day, along with the visual rock compilation of Rock Of Ages, more bands will continue to take this popular path. The Kinks officially take the theatrical route to reignite their incredible back catalogue to lifelong fans and dedicated theatre goers.
Sunny Afternoon has the personal touch of the influential The Kinks songwriter Ray Davies with not only the songs, but also the story that was written by him too. The musical is obviously based on the birth and growth of The Kinks. It follows 4 working class musicians in the mid ’60s who are picked up by a record label and start becoming successful after continuous hits. Their signature sound conquers England and their next step is to take on America. The story shows that there is a complicated core to rock n roll that involves the hectic behaviour, creative differences and tough love.
The chemistry between the characters bubbles up consistently throughout the whole musical; this chemistry involves differences between the upper and working class of ’60s Britain along with the political views of the USA against communism. The love and hate between the band members is beautifully documented and portrayed by the talented cast. It’s difficult to pick out a favourite actor, I almost feel guilty trying to pinpoint one person as everyone did brilliantly. The main cast and the extras made the entire performance flow with the comical and dark tones throughout. The relationship between the Davies brothers is an emotional roller coaster as indications of jealousy and frustration from Dave (Mark Newnham) are emphasised as the limelight is shone onto Ray (Ryan O’Donnell) during the songwriting scenes.
The set was simple yet great to behold; it gave the focus a lot more on the unbalanced tensions between The Kinks. The dancing was a much needed decoration as the band played with slick movements and vibrant costumes to spread colour around The Kinks’ matching suits. The songs, in my eyes, are flawless. The way Ray Davies has used his songs to put them into the story is remarkable and, even though it’s stated in the musical itself, the songs are of course about everything related to the band. These already established hits just don’t get old, and Sunny Afternoon has proven that these classics can be revived and appreciated to a new generation.
Hearing the rock anthems revived from generations ago just shows how immortal The Kinks’ legacy really is. Hearing “You Really Got Me”, “Sunny Afternoon” and“Waterloo Sunset” numerous times doesn’t get old. The blend of the musical and dramatic performances from the cast makes this musical in a league of their own. The relationship between the band is forever entertaining with the starlight alienation and constant bickering. It’s refreshing seeing another rock musical completely dominating audiences throughout the country. Sunny Afternoon stands firmly as one of the finest rock musicals you can ever see. You will regret missing this outstanding experience; it’s calling out to every rock fan and theatre fanatic across the globe.
Sunny Afternoon plays the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 11th February. To book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool For full tour information visit here: www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com/uk-tour/