Sunny Afternoon at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

SUNNY AFTERNOON TOUR - Ryan ODonnell Ray Davies and Sophie Leigh Griffin Joyce. Photo Kevin Cummins

Photographs credited to Kevin Cummins

Having seen the likes of Let It Be, The Buddy Holly Story and 20th Century Boy, it’s safe to say I’m not against musicals/ stage shows celebrating the music of just one band. However, this show may as well have been titled The Genius of Ray Davies, purely based on the amount of times fictional versions of characters of his past casually slip in how simply genius he is. It doesn’t help that the rest of the cast are made to look like fools, poor Dave Davies (Mark Newnham) is portrayed staggering about in dresses clutching a bottle of booze and the character of Mick Avory (played by Andrew Gallo) batters Dave with bits of his drum kit with very little build-up or explanation. Of course, every time there’s a moment of poignancy, out belts a song to not-so-subtly hint to the audience that the key events in Ray Davies’ life we witness are the inspiration to the timeless classics we know today.

Unfortunately, these are timeless classics that, as a mild The Kinks fan, I haven’t heard of. We only get to hear full renditions of the good stuff right at the end, by which time I’m a little all Kink-ed out.

However, these are my thoughts on the production as a piece and, as a hit award-winning musical I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who wholeheartedly disagree that this is a rather self-indulgent piece with the sole purpose to tell everyone how awesome Ray Davies is (and he is awesome, no doubt about that). Now let’s turn our attention to the cast and crew, who are, on the whole, very impressive indeed.

Ryan O’Donnell as Ray Davies has a lovely singing voice and handles the part well—he’s believable and likeable, unlike his irritating on-stage brother. Andrew Gallo’s drum solo is staggeringly good, and it’s incredible to see so many strong musicians take to the stage. The songs are, of course, also brilliant so it’s a bit of a win-win in that regard. Lisa Wright has a pretty dodgy Yorkshire accent as Rasa, but I’ll let her off as she plays the part with adorable charm. The other female cast members are fairly peripheral, but all perform enthusiastically (if a little too enthusiastically, in parts).

If you love The Kinks, I’d recommend grooving along to see this show. If you love Ray Davies, then this will be a dream come true for you.

Catch it until 4th March at The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford.