You would be hard pushed to find someone who isn't familiar with the music of Rod Stewart - he has produced scores of hits over the years and is still rocking out today. It would only seem fitting that these songs be showcased in a new way - cue 'Tonight's the Night', a jukebox musical written by Ben Elton that plots the story of mechanic Stuart (Ben Heathcote), who lacks in confidence and is unsure of his abilities to win over romantic interest Mary (Jenna Lee-James). In his quest for love he makes a deal with the devil (Tiffany Graves) to trade his own soul for that of rock god Rod Stewart. Was that decision the right one? You'll have to go to find out.
The production is very heavy in songs but light in plot as it manages to squeeze 25 hits (plus a mega mix) into an under 3 hour show. As you would expect, the whole story centres around these songs so lacked depth and seemed almost forced in parts.
An extremely talented cast more than make up for the weak plot. Ben Heathcote throws himself into the role of shy and sensitive Stuart. With impressive vocals and movement he belts out one song after the next, giving the crowd what they've come to see. Ricky Rojasand Tiffany Graves both had great stage presence, bringing in the laughs as Stuart’s band mate and promoter. Special mention to the show’s Dee Dee, Rosie Heath, who stood head and shoulders above her fellow cast members with a truly showstopping voice. Backing singers also came in the form of audience members, who tapped, clapped and sang their way through each number. The addition of a sailor hat on each seat for a bit of audience participation during ‘Sailing’ was an original touch.
If you’re looking for a show with a story line to sink your teeth into then I would give this a miss. However, there’s no denying the widespread appeal Rod Stewart’s songs have, and Tonight’s the Night is an great opportunity to relive them.
* Written by me for Backstage Pass