Sunny Afternoon – Review

Petra Shepherd goes to see this nostalgic musical and finds that the songs still appeal to both young and old

John Dagleish, George Maguire, Adam Sopp and Ned Derrington in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

John Dagleish, George Maguire, Adam Sopp and Ned Derrington in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Adam Sopp, Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Lillie Flynn and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Adam Sopp, Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Lillie Flynn and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Carly Anderson, George Maguire and Emily Goodenough in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Carly Anderson, George Maguire and Emily Goodenough in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins. (2)

George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Adam Sopp and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Adam Sopp and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Adam Sopp, Dominic Tighe, George Maguire, Tam Williams and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Adam Sopp, Dominic Tighe, George Maguire, Tam Williams and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Sunny Afternoon, the critically acclaimed new musical telling the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks has extended its run and is now playing until 24th October at the Harold Pinter Theatre. I caught it in the autumn and it’s just the tonic to brighten up these cold, grey winter days.

The musical is set against the back-drop of a Britain caught mid-swing between the conservative 50s and riotous 60s, telling the story of how The Kinks exploded onto the music scene with a raw, energetic new sound that rocked a nation. It really is all about the music featuring some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs, including You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset and Lola. Ray Davies has an outstanding catalogue of hits with estimated record sales in excess of 50 million.

The show is not your average greatest hits crowd pleaser, although lovers of other so called juke box musicals like Jersey Boys and Let It Be, won’t go home disappointed. The title track is played as a jubilant anthem to celebrate England winning the World Cup, you can’t help but smile and reminisce about the joyful summer of 1966.

Once I got over the fact that Ray is played by John Dagleish, more familiar to many as Alfie in Larkrise to Candleford (you’d be hard pressed to find two more different characters!), I was totally bowled over by how amazing he sings and how he totally embodies the character of Ray. However, kicking at his heels for my affections was George Maguire as Ray’s wilder and naughtier younger brother Dave. One particular scene with Ray swinging from the chandeliers in a women’s nightie sticks in my mind.

Sunny Afternoon is very much a British musical and compliments the other new musicals in town, the very American Memphis the Musical and Beautiful again based on the life and works of American singer/songwriter Carol King.  We can do music as good as anybody and with style and a sense of humour as well “the taxman’s taken all my dough” and in this election year, you can’t help but smile at the toff Tory managers and who they might remind you of.

Sunny Afternoon marks the 50th Anniversary year of the band’s debut release and anybody who lived through and enjoyed the music in the 60s will find it irresistible.  It’s not only the music that’s memorable, the show has a tremendous sense of period and I overheard lots of conversations in the interval regarding the miniscule miniskirts and white boots that a lot of the female members of the audience remembered fondly from their “dancing days”.  The latter obviously not over as the whole of the audience were up on their feet bopping away to the closing numbers.  It’s not just the 60s baby boomers who would appreciate the show, it appeals to young and old alike, it’s hugely enjoyable, it really got me !

Sunny Afternoon
Harold Pinter Theatre
Panton Street
London
SW1Y 4DN
www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com

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