The Kinks: Mark Newnham as Dave Davies, Ryan O’Donnell as Ray Davies, Garmon Rhys as Pete Quaife and Andrew Gallo as Mick Avory. Pictures: Kevin Cummins
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
In recent years we have been bombarded with a plethora of musicals that have been written around an artist or band’s catalogue of music.
These have mostly resulted in an awkward and sometimes bizarre storyline squeezed to fit the already existing lyrics.
This cannot be said of Sunny Afternoon. Based on the music of English rock band The Kinks, Joe Penhall successfully tells the story of four working class cockney lads from Muswell Hill who make their way from humble beginnings as a backing band to successful chart-topping sensation of the 60s.
Floor to ceiling speakers and a multitude of stage lights form the basis of the impressive set which, with the aid of a few strategically placed props or items of furniture quickly transports us to a number of different locations.
A stage, recording studio, a living room, a bedroom, an office, a hotel room and with the assistance of quite a few star spangled banners, even takes us across the pond to the U. S of A as the Kinks become part of the ‘British inavsion’.
Lisa Wright as Rasa
Front man Ray (Ryan O’Donnell) and his brother, lead guitarist Dave Davies (Mark Newnham) form the group along with their two mates drummer Mick Avory (Andrew Gallo) and bass guitarist Pete Quaife (Garmon Rhys).
Together they embark on their dream of having fun and making music and along the way they are joined by Ray’s girlfriend/soon to be wife Rasa (Lisa Wright) who provides backing vocals on some of their tracks.
The fun soon stops and the stresses start as they are taken over by a string of managers, advisers, publishers and unions all of whom demand a percentage of their earnings with promises of success, fame, fortune and stardom.
Tensions rise as Dave ‘ the Rave’ discovers a fondness of partying hard, flamboyant clothes and cross dressing, and engages in the reckless sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Fights break out, tempers fray and the mild mannered Pete threatens to leave the band. Ray is missing his wife and daughter and Mick throws punches at Dave, but somehow they manage to ride the storm and the rest as they say . . . is history.
Mark Newnham as Dave Davies
This highly energetic and at times ear-piercingly loud musical is not only a delight for any Kinks fan but is fabulously entertaining for all. Packed full with memorable hits including You Really Got Me, Dead End Street, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon, Waterloo Sunset and Lola.
It is littered with humorous references to their contemporaries The Who and The Beatles with some fabulous one liners - ‘Paul McCartney wouldn’t have his wife on backing vocals’ and ‘Do you think John Lennon sits around in his bed all day?’
Perfectly cast and some great acting, which is certainly a bonus for this genre of musical. So often the characterisation is secondary to the singing but definitely not in this case. The cast mastered the songs and the music, as well as giving convincingly good character performances.
Of particular note was Andrew Gallo’s drum solo, and the well judged over the top craziness of Mark Newnham’s Dave ‘the Rave’ along with the rousing singalong finale which brings the audience to their feet for the well deserved ovation.
You’ll certainly leave on a high! To 22-04-17
Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith