20th CENTURY BOY: Featuring the music of Marc Bolan
Birmingham New Alexandra to 3rd May
Info: /www.20thcenturyboythemusical.co.uk/Runs: approx 2h 50, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, New Alexandra, 28 04 14
Lively, committed and great music.
In 1970 Marc Bolan transformed Tyrannosaurus Rex into T Rex, and in doing so transformed himself and, for a while (some might say for ever) pop music. The Marc Bolan presented here had a single aim in life – to be bigger than Elvis; a goal he achieved before reaching 30. Some achievement for a boy from 1950s East London.
20th CENTURY BOY aims to give us an insight into this enormously talented but troubled young man. Warts and all. As well, of course, as bringing his music and performance back to life.
The show is energetic, performed with great commitment, and with Warren Sollars in the centre as the man himself, revealing. Starting quietly the show builds nicely to T Rex’s transformed performance at the Lyceum with GET IT ON.
Sollars puts his all into the big numbers in an engrossing, swaggering performance. He convinces as the driven young man, makes us cringe at his arrogant self-centredness and engages our empathy with his breakdown and recovery. All the more tragic, then, his sudden death. Sollars has a strong passionate singing voice too.
Sue Jenkins, Lucy Sinclair and Donna Hines enrich the story as his mother, first wife and second wife. And Luke Bailey is a gentle bridge into the tale as Marc’s son Rolan discovering his father’s stature – his journey is our journey.
Choreography is tight, particularly at the beginning – I LOVE TO BOOGIE is marvellous. It’s a shame the dance element falls away as the show moves into its second half.
Ensuring nobody leaves the theatre disappointed all the big numbers are reprieved at the end (DANDY IN THE UNDERWORLD, CHILD OF THE REVOLUTION among them) in an exhaustive (and no doubt exhausting) full-scale gig. Grannies were up dancing too – and why not!
(Full credits will follow.)