‘Lazying on a Sunny afternoon…in the summer time…’
At this time of year, summer certainly feels like a distant memory doesn’t it? However if the long dark nights are getting you down and you feel like you need a kick of Vitamin D in your system, then my advice is to get yourself down to see ‘Sunny Afternoon’ which has just transferred to the West End.
The musical recounts the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks. Set against the back-drop of a Britain caught mid-swing between the bourgeois 1950s and rebellious 1960s, its a classic rag to riches story full of highs and lows with the irresistibly catchy music as the backbone to the piece. The show includes many of the bands best-loved songs, including All Day and All of the Night, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Waterloo Sunset and Lola.
The Kinks rocked a generation and firmly cemented their mark on the British Music scene. The jagged eight chord change at the start of You Really Got Me sounds as fresh today, 50 years on, as it did in 1964. It therefore seems only fitting that in their anniversary year that a musical should pay homage to these original punks.
Unlike similar jukebox musicals like Jersey Boys, the show’s story lacks the trials and tribulations in the journey of the band. Instead you get the cliched tale of four working class lads who form a band and hit the big time only to get screwed over by their management, fall victim to drugs and excesses before this leads to to fall out of the band.
The intimate catwalk style staging makes the audience feel like the pit of a gig, rather than an 19th century theatre. This setting enables the show to put a firm emphasis on the songs which themselves which are expertly interwoven to tell the story of the band. Songs like ‘You Really Got Me’ are performed as if you are watching The Kinks at a gig. Whilst others like ‘Days’ are written into the narrative and for me provided one of the shows most poignant moments.
‘Sunny Afternoon’ boasts a superbly talented cast who both play their instruments as well as sing and act. In the starring role as Ray Davies is Johnny Dagleish, who captures the depth of character of Ray as well as the distinctive vocals. Whilst George Maguire plays his rocker brother, Dave, who plays the role with a fantastic cheeky charisma.
When I went to see the show, the audience were an eclectic mix of oldies keen to relive their youth and those younger music fans familiar some but not all of The Kinks songs. I loved how the encore medley of hits brought these two groups together, everyone on their feet dancing and singing regardless of age. It felt weirdly very therapeutic. Having hummed the songs all the way home, the next day I found myself downloading an album of their songs. If you are not a fan of The Kinks when you go to see this show, then seeing ‘Sunny Afternoon’ is bound to make you one.
Sunny Afternoon is at The Harold Pinter Theatre.
For more details visit: http://sunnyafternoonthemusical.com/