Theatre Review: BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL – Opera House, Manchester

Olly Dobson as Marty McFly and Roger Bart as Doc Brown in BACK TO THE FUTURE

Olly Dobson (Marty McFly) & Roger Bart (Doc Brown) in BACK TO THE FUTURE. Photo: Sean Ebsowrth Barnes

Staying true to the original film with a few surprises here and there, BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL is a near-perfect show

4.5 out of 5 stars

It’s easy to understand why many BACK TO THE FUTURE fans were initially dubious when creators Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis first announced they were bringing the cult classic to the big stage. While the 1985 hit film certainly has more than enough fans to fill seats, there’s always a risk that the musical won’t do the film justice. Yet it’s a risk that seems to have paid off.

Set in 1985, BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL tells the story of teenager Marty McFly (Olly Dobson) who accidentally travels back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents and becomes his mother’s romantic interest. With the help of eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (Roger Bart), his friend and the inventor of the time-travelling DeLorean automobile, the pair attempt to repair history and send Marty back to the future.

As the audience take their seats, it’s clear from the outset that BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL is going to be a visually spectacular show. Under the watchful eye of Tony award-winning Director John Rando, the creative team have pulled out all the stops to capture the magic of the original film, Tim Hatley’s impressive set design engulfing audience from the sides and the ceiling to deliver a truly immersive experience.

Lorraine Baines (Rosanna Hyland) & George McFly (Hugh Coles) in BACK TO THE FUTURE

Rosanna Hyland & Hugh Coles in BACK TO THE FUTURE. Photo: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Aided by Hugh Vanstone and Tim Lutkin’s lighting design and Finn Ross’ video design, the action effortlessly transports the audience from 1985 to 1955 with some truly spectacular scenes, the script staying true to the original film while throwing in a few little surprises here and there.

Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard musical score also works well here, iconic hits including THE POWER OF LOVE, JOHNNY B GOODE, EARTH ANGEL and BACK IN TIME played alongside new musical numbers, which sound similar in style to those in the original film.

As expected, Broadway star Roger Bart is simply superb as Doc Brown, capturing the eccentric mannerisms of the character played so iconically by Christopher Lloyd in the film. His musical numbers IT WORKS and 21ST CENTURY stand out as highlights and are joyously elaborate. Doc’s character is also much more developed than in the film, his solo number FOR THE DREAMERS providing an insight into the character that we haven’t really seen before.

Olly Dobson is equally excellent as Marty McFly, capturing the youthfulness, coolness and likeability of the character. While Dobson certainly looks and sounds like Michael J Fox, he never tries to imitate the actor, making the character his own while staying true to the film.

Olly Dobson (Marty McFly) & Roger Bart (Doc Brown) in BACK TO THE FUTURE.

Olly Dobson (Marty McFly) & Roger Bart (Doc Brown) in BACK TO THE FUTURE. Photo: Sean Ebsowrth Barnes

A special mention must go to Hugh Coles as George McFly, who is by far the best cast member at recreating the original film character – his mannerisms, look and voice are all spot on. Rosanna Hyland is also superb as Lorraine Baines, her Grease style musical number PRETTY BABY standing out for its catchy melody and comic delivery.

But it is the car that is truly the star of the show, Chris Fisher’s illusions and the overall special effects knocking this production into West End standards, the finale, in particular, standing out for its wow moment.

BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL is a near-perfect show. With a bit of trimming here and there, and a couple of musical numbers removed to keep the pacing tight, this show has the power to change musical history.

But you’d best be quick if you want a ticket – time is limited and you only have 12 weeks before this show is set to fly to London’s West End.

BACK TO THE FUTURE THE MUSICAL runs at the Opera House, Manchester until 17 May 2020