Review: Tonight’s the Night, King’s Theatre

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IT’S been more than a decade since this high energy tribute to Rod Stewart was first performed and, judging by the awkward silence that greets some of tonight’s comedy dialogue, it’s fair to say that the show would have benefited from a substantial rewrite during the intervening years.

With author Ben Elton presumably too busy counting his earnings from We Will Rock You to attend to this task, what audiences are presented with in 2014 retains the unfortunate air of a rushed first draft.

Tonight's The Night. Picture: comp

Tonight's The Night. Picture: comp

Of course, even the best ‘jukebox musicals’ are flimsy excuses for top song and dance performers to run through the back catalogues of revered pop stars. It would be unfair to expect compelling or well constructed narratives from these confections. What’s crucial, however, is that their stories complement the themes of their soundtracks.

Regrettably, the unstoppable onslaught of hits that form the bulk of Tonight’s The Night never quite gel with the rest of the production.

Working as a greaser in a Detroit garage, Stuart is a bespectacled dweeb who dreams of declaring his love for Mary and standing up to his bullying colleagues.

Frustrated with his lot in life, the young man makes a pact with the devil so that he may enjoy the many benefits associated with possession of Rod Stewart’s soul.

As Stuart’s confidence soars, he grows to command the respect of men and women alike, embarking on an inevitable career as a rock singer at the expense of his relationship with Mary.

Throughout all this, we hear renditions of Maggie May, Hot Legs and Sailing, whether relevant to the plot or not, while the usual sexual innuendos and rock ‘n’ roll cliches are paraded limply before us.

What saves the production is the quality of the songwriting and the enthusiasm of its cast, Ben Heathcote proving a versatile leading man and underused Sugababe Jade Ewen turning in a jaw dropping version of The First Cut is the Deepest. If the same team were to lend their talents to a musical of more substance, then we might have something truly sexy on our hands and the audience wouldn’t hesitate to let them know.

• Run ends Saturday