2017 at the Theatre Royal Nottingham kicks off with a bang, Sunny Afternoon which is the musical journey of The Kinks.
Didn’t know what I was going to expect with this one as not a huge fan of The Kinks but I do like a good musical and normally like a good story by a band and it’s journey for good measure.
As we took to our seats it felt more like we were about to watch a music gig at the Royal Concert Hall, with the extended walkway off the stage and the overhead lighting.
Music aside for a moment, Sunny Afternoon captured the look and feel of the 60s, with the costumes , hair and more often than not the screaming fans of a young British band set for stardom.
Stage design personally felt like we were in a recording studio, much like the musical ‘Million Dollar Quartet, the stage layout didn’t change all the much which was a good thing as it wasn’t too off putting, meaning there wasn’t much noises behind the stage or lots of copping and changes scenes the action on stage just rolled on smoothly. When moving from scene to scene there was good use of lighting to give it the illusion they were in a different location to the previous scene.
The story was mostly focused on The Kinks frontman Ray Davies (Played by Ryan O’Donnell) but at times it slightly tested away to the other band members, however it gave us an insight to what a group of young lads had to do to get their sound and voice heard in the music industry.
Brothers and best friends forming the band, each bringing their own style or talent, we had the off the rails madness of Dave Davies (Played by Mark Newnham), the larger than life joker Mick Avory (Played By Andrew Gallo) and the shy and outspoken Pete Quaife (Played By Garmon Rhys) and of course the lyrical wonder which was Ray Davies, all having their own different ideas and directions they could see or wanted the band to take, whether it be they clothes they wear or the location they were touring, they all wanted their opinions heard.
Now to the music, there were a handful of songs by The Kinks I knew before seeing this musical such as ‘You Really Got Me’ , ‘Lola’ , ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and now I know a few more, each of these performed with energy and style, which emulated the raw sound of The Kinks.
Looking round at the audience everyone was having a good time singing and clapping along to the songs they all remembered, the story element at times could be forgotten as it felt like we were taken back to experience of the many concerts performed by The Kinks themselves.
As mentioned previously, the story is mostly focused on Ray Davies and his decisions of were the band should be heading, what they agree to sign up to do and also Ray’s personal life, discovering what he has to do to make the rest of the band members and family happy when making important decisions at a young age.
Touched on the music again for a moment, there was a couple of musicians that joined the lads on stage, hidden in the corner on a piano and guitar plus backing singers and dancers, as well as Michael Warburton (Who played the role of Eddie Kassner) occasionally filling in on the drums, I could of happily sat there and listened to song after song or the other way round I could of enjoyed the story element of the performance, it felt like there wasn’t a gap or breath in between, most of the audience didn’t know when to clap and cheer at times as the next scene would roll into each other quite quickly.
The first half of the show built the foundations for the story it was trying to tell, with each character being introduced this part was done very well and I enjoyed the funny moments of Robert Wace (Played by Joseph Richardson), that being said I couldn’t fault any of the cast members, dancers throughout the performance as a number of them played different roles during a number of different scenes but with a slightly different hair style and outfit, which I personally felt worked well keeping the familiar faces on stage.
I did enjoy it, the story may have got over shadowed by the music that was performed and it did feel like it lasted a good three hours towards the end, but fans of The Kinks as many of the audience seemed to be or just anyone who wants to have a great evening of music and performance will enjoy Sunny Afternoon.
Live Music, Comedy and Raw Power whats not to like!
Make sure you catch Sunny Afternoon at the Theatre Royal Nottingham as it’s there till this Saturday 28th January.
Photo Credit : Kevin Cummins