Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Smash hit West End Musical bursts brilliantly on to WMCís stage.

The Commitments

Phil McIntyre Entertainments Limited , Wales Millennium Centre , April-10-17
The Commitments by Phil McIntyre Entertainments Limited This is most definitely the biggest WOW! factor I have encountered on this stage since forever.
Itís a very demanding show but this great, skillful ensemble has energy and talent in enormous buckets-full. They never stop singing, they never stop dancing and they never stop giving us a fantastic time. Dubliner Brian Gilligan is on top form as the bandís lead singer Deco. He is a master of the bandís trade mark Soul Music; he gets right inside us with Night Train, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and many more. His Try A Little Tenderness takes the pace down and we hear the subtlety and sensitivity of this extraordinary voice.
Like everyone in this very audience aware cast, he is also a fine actor and great at giving us many moments of robust laughter.

His three lady-backing singers are all equally as versatile with a lot of the fun coming from Christina Tedders as Bernie. Sisters, Amy Penston, (Natalie) and Leah Penston, ( Imelda), join her. As good a backing trio as any singer could wish for. They also do some fine work on their own with remarkable solos from Amy Penston who brings the show to its surprise ending.

A drop of maturity is added to the wild nature of the emerging band. Joey The Lips, with his excellent trumpet playing, tells the gang he has played with some of the best-known American bands, whether he has or not we need not bother ourselves with. Alex McMorran gives him a strong touch of realism. He does his best, in the early days, to keep the band grounded. He doesnít have very much success!

Jimmy is the young guy with the dream to form an Irish, democratic Soul band. His dour dad isnít so sure. A perfectly observed cameo from Kevin Kennedy, still remembered from his Coronation Street days. Andrew Linnie, as Jimmy almost survives the task he has set himself. The actorís comparative, excellent under playing endears him to us and we all share in his ups and downs.

As with the original West End show this is a very brave production. Caroline Jay Rangerís directorís touch is like another character in the show. From all the shenanigans, head banging, nosebleeds etc. itís very hard to imagine anything could emerge from this rabble. Thereís a total lack of musicianship from the remaining members of the band with their dodgy guitar and saxophone playing. Peter Mooney (Derek) on bass, Padraig Dooney (Dean), saxophone and Christian James (Outspan) guitar seem to provide more to the mayhem than the music. In contrast Sam Fordham (Mickah) on drums has a more steady beat but puts in his pennyworth of trouble.

When we leave them for the interval we are not sure what we will get in the second half. What we get is a complete turnaround and the excellence shines out to us.

We have got our great reward but thereís more. The applauding audience is on its feet. The cast, (just where do they get their energy from?), start to belt out refrains. We are all hands in the air waving, clapping and quickly our bodies start to sway. It was a great time for all of us, the cast on stage and all of us in the audience, singing in our hearts as we made our way home!

10-15 April

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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