The Commitments


The Commitments Review

To celebrate the 1st anniversary of the show’s opening in London, I was invited down to see the musical of The Commitments earlier this month.  The show has been a huge hit since it opened last October, garnering praise from the critics for the high energy, witty and soulful performances that has the audience on their feet night after night.

The Commitments tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitee (played by Denis Grindel), a charismatic character, who to brings a bunch of unlikely amateur musicians together, to form “the finest soul band Dublin as ever produced”. The stage play was written about Roddy Doyle, the original author who has also adapted the 1991 hit film too.

The musical follows the band from auditions to their first gigs and the trials, tribulations and temper tantrums in between. The lead singer, Deco (played by Brian Gilligan) is an unlikely front man with a protruding beer belly and carrier bag with his worldly belongings.  Before long, the lure of the limelight sees a change in Deco and fame soon goes to his head, causing issues with the others in the band.

the-commitments-theatreThe grey, grim mundane set depicting a rainy Dublin, perfectly compliment the colour from the soulful voices of the cast.  From the off, the show packs a punch with witty Irish banter, which is times is so fasted paced it is hard to keep up with.  That said the performers’ energy is infectious and once the band strikes up, the audience are hooked.  The sublime vocals from all the performers brings this show alive.  Songs include such classics as ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ by The Temptations and ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ by Otis Redding.

As well as incorporating the soul classics that you know and love from the film, the musical includes sounds of eighties classics like ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ by The Human League.  One of the many highlights and funniest scenes in the show was the band auditions; with acts turning up at Jimmy’s front door to belt out 80’s hits, only have the door shut in their face when they don’t make the grade.  It made Simon Cowell’s X Factor put downs look like a compliment!

You have to wait for the encore to hear ‘Mustang Sally’ but by then the audience are literally on the edge of their seats.  Sitting in the stalls, people around me lept into the aisles and one woman grabbed the mic off one of the leads so she could have her 5 seconds of fame.

Chatting with the performers after the show and it was clear to see that they are band off stage as well as well on as they joked with one another and recounted stories of mishaps on stage, particularly with the scooter. Gillingan also revealed how for him; destiny was about being in the right place and the right time.  He explained how he secured the starring role after being overheard singing ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ in the corridors of the theatre.  His voice caught the attention of the associate director who then suggested to the production team they audition him for the role.

If you are looking for a toe tapping, soul soaring night out then definitely check out ‘The Commitments’ which is currently running at The Palace Theatre.


Lisa Douglas

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