The music of many great British artists has provided the inspiration for a stage musical, with rock band Queen serving as one of the best examples. Queen were one of the most successful bands in the world and front-man Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991, is widely considered to be one of the greatest singers in the history of music. We Will Rock You, which is based on the songs of Queen, has now been running in the West End for 11 years and remains amongst the most popular shows in town. Musicals featuring the music of Madness, The Beatles, The Spice Girls and Take That, to name a few, have attracted audiences from far and wide, and international artists such as ABBA have also had the West End pay tribute to their legacy – Mamma Mia is the West End’s longest-running jukebox musical and probably its most successful.
Today though, the spotlight is falling on another British legend; one whose career spans 50 years and has seen worldwide record sales of 200 million. Brit and Grammy Award-winner Rod Stewart has performed on his fair share of stages in his time, but now it’s the turn of other to perform his timeless songs in the upcoming revival of Tonight’s The Night. The smash hit musical comedy is embarking on an epic new UK tour, which kicks off in January 2014.
Tonight’s The Night is the creation of acclaimed writer and comedian Ben Elton, who can also count the West End hit We Will Rock You as one of his theatrical achievements. Based on the songs of Rod Stewart, the jukebox musical is set on the mean streets of Detroit and in the glamorous clubs of uptown LA. It tells the story of Stu, a shy young man, so tongue tied that he cannot find the courage to declare his love to the girl of his dreams. How different he is to his hero, that legendary rock n’ roll vagabond Rod Stewart! One night our hero strikes a deal with the Devil, trading his soul for Rod’s. It seems like a good idea at the time but he’s is about to find out the hard way that you can’t find true love using another man’s moves and that devil or no devil, there’s only one Rod Stewart!
It made its world premiere at the Victoria Palace, opening there in October 2003 with a cast which included such renowned names as Dianne Pilkington, Hannah Waddingham, Tim Howar, Debbie Kurup and Tim Walton. The show was well-received and ran in the West End for just over a year before refreshing itself in a scaled down version which toured the UK in 2006. Rachel Tucker, Ryan Molloy and Rachael Wood featured in the touring company of the show.
It was recently announced that Jade Ewen is set to make a limited appearance in the forthcoming UK tour, starring in the role of Dee Dee. Ewen first made her name representing the UK in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, where she performed the Andrew Lloyd Webber number ’It’s My Time’ and managed to place fifth in the competition. She went on to join hit girl-band Sugababes, who had two Top Ten UK singles during her time with the group. She has previous stage experience, appearing in The Lion King as a child playing Young Nala and also as Curly in Whistle Down the Wind.
The tour production will also star Michael McKell, best known for his TV role as Dr Nick West in Doctors. He will be reprising his role as Stoner for a limited run, which sees both he and Ewen appear in the show until 26th April 2014. The other main roles will be played by Ben Heathcote (Mamma Mia!, Three Musketeers) as Stuart, Jenna Lee-James (We Will Rock You, Joseph) as Mary, Tiffany Graves (We Will Rock You, Sweet Charity) reprising her role as Satan/Baby Jane, Andy Rees (Legally Blonde, A Chorus Line) as Rocky, and Craig Mather (Les Miserables) as the alternate Stuart. The rest of the company includes Michelle Antrobus, Joshua Dever, Amy Diamond, Rosie Fletcher, Rosie Heath, Sinead Long, Tom Millen, Darryl Paul, Ricky Rojas, Spin and Lindsey Tierney.
The UK tour of Tonight’s The Night will open at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 20 January 2014, and will be visiting other cities with further dates, including Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Bristol, with more to be announced. The all-new production, which will feature spectacular staging, a world-class band and dazzling choreography, also features 20 of the best of Rod Stewart’s hits. Audiences can enjoy the company of highly talented performers singing such classics as ‘Hot Legs’, ‘Baby Jane’, ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’, ‘Maggie May’, ‘This Old Heart of Mine’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It’, ‘Ooh La La’, ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’, ‘Forever Young’, ‘Sailing’, and of course, the title number ‘Tonight’s The Night’.
In any jukebox musical, the key ingredient is the music. Ben Elton would hardly have had the same success with We Will Rock You if he had instead based his musical on the songs of Jedward after all. Rod Steward is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and at the age of 68, is still going strong with his new chart-topping album, No. 1 best-selling autobiography and a 2013 concert tour. Writer Ben Elton described him as a “totally unique artist” and his continuing popularity speaks for itself in terms of his talent as a singer-songwriter; one of the best that the UK has.
Speaking about the 2014 tour, Rod Stewart said: “In the past, any ideas for musicals revolving around my songs just didn’t work for me. It was only when we were approached to do ‘Tonight’s The Night’ that the idea really took off. I’m absolutely thrilled that this great show is touring the UK again.”
An ‘all-singing, all-dancing feel good show’, Tonight’s The Night is sure to tickle the taste buds of Rod Stewart fans all over the UK next year. The songs of ‘Rod the Mod’ have dominated the music industry for more than five decades now, and in 2014, they will be invading the world of musical theatre once again.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 26th November 2013