Lucy Morris

Back to the Future: The Musical speeds into the Adelphi Theatre

Back to the Future is a show I never thought would grace the West End. Time-travel absurdity aside, the ability to transfer something as iconic as this 80s box office hit without losing its magic is a concept I couldn’t wrap my head around…until I was in the audience.

The show itself follows the same story of the film: Marty McFly accidentally transports himself back 30 years to 1955, with the ‘help’ of friend and scientist Doc Brown. McFly spends his time in the 50s desperately trying to get back to his own time, whilst struggling to not interfere with the course of history, including his own existence.

With the film being such a success, it’s no surprise that audiences would expect and hope for a direct copy on stage, and this is close to what they get. Outlandish Doc Brown, played by Roger Bart (The Producers), is even more eccentric and unorthodox than Christopher Lloyd’s version, but still oozes the warmth that we love about his character. Olly Dobson (Bat Out of Hell), who plays the bold and personable Marty McFly, is almost a carbon copy of Michael J Fox’s portrayal. His performance (and distinctive red body warmer) is met with cheers and shouts from the audience, thrilled at his mirror-like interpretation. Whilst his father, George McFly, played by Hugh Coles making his West End debut, compels the audience to fall in love with him through his timorous turned valiant character arc.

Whilst the script is strong, repeatedly playing on the familiarity of the quotes and cheesiness of the film, the songs lack the same solidity and power. Although the music is well-placed and the lyrics move the story along, the score itself is lacklustre and unmemorable. The only numbers that didn’t fall short were those famously used in the movie, such as The Power of Love, and unfortunately, that was only a snippet.

What is lacking in the score is undoubtedly made up in the special effects, and it wouldn’t be Back to the Future without the DeLorean that made Marty’s time-travelling journey happen. I cannot imagine the difficulty of incorporating the car, which must travel at the very specific 88MPH, into a theatre without losing the audience to reality, but they’ve achieved the impossible. Accompanied by Finn Ross’ projections and Tim Lutkin’s effective lighting design, the DeLorean appears to travel at speed on the stage, leaving the audience gasping in their seats.

Although the show may not be musically perfect, it is nothing short of visually spectacular. The cast and crew have had the immensely difficult job of bringing such a beloved film to the West End but they’ve done so with imagination, creativity and masses of talent. I may not be adding this cast recording to my Spotify playlist, but I will certainly be recommending it to everyone I know for its illusions alone. ‘Great Scott’ indeed! 

Words by Lucy Morris.

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