Back to the Future Musical previews London Theatre Show
Many classic films have been adapt for musical theatre over the years, with some being better than others. There has been no Back to the Future the Musical. Express.co.uk has learned from the people involved that this is not a cynical cash grab.
It has been 14 years since the film was made. Back to the Future Trilogy director Robert Zemeckis, and Bob Gale the screenwriter have played a major role in the production of the theatrical version. The movie’s 1985 release date is also over 14 years.
Back to the Future theme composer Alan Silverstri, who has returned to work on the musical’s songs, told us: “Like Bob Gale says, ‘I always had the red button.’
It didn’t matter where we were on the journey. It didn’t matter how far down the road we went. He could simply say, “We don’t want to do that.” It’s not going to help the franchise. We believe it will dishonour Back to the Future.”
Fans are lucky that this never happened. The original team was patient and took their time getting the musical version right even though it could take years. The origins of the new production actually date back to 2005, when the original team visited Mel Brooks’ comedy masterpiece to view a musical version.
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After Leslie Zemeckis and her husband saw The Producers in the theatre, Leslie suggested the idea of a musical version. Gale shared the thought with the director after he saw The Producers at the theatre. He remembered thinking, “If this can be done, it may just work!”
Now, fast forward to February 2006. The Bobs met Silvestri & Glen Ballard for the first time. They had previously worked together on music for Zemeckis’ Christmas adventure The Polar Express. According to the screenwriter, “And then we tried to figure out how we can actually accomplish this?” We didn’t have any musical theatre experience.
Gale said they had never considered making the entire Back to the Future trilogy into musicals. Gale stated, “It could never be the first film. It would be insane to try all three.
Even though they had the same story, many theatre producers who met them didn’t think it would work on the stage. Back to the Future the Musical began to come together over the years.
Back To The Future Musical: Roger Bart plays Doc Brown
Gale worked on production and the book, while Silvestri was focusing on the music. Back to the Future’s composer remembers agreeing to the franchise right away. Silvestri stated that “it was yes right from the beginning.” “Yes to what we did not know”. They started with just a few tracks, including the opening song of the musical It’s Only a Matter of Time.
Silvestri recalled that the song was shown to co-creators and they laughed the whole time. Then, after the show, we all were like “Damn!” This could be a musical. Despite Gale reminding them that they had never done a theatrical production before, the Hollywood cast was able to recite it. When we did our first movie we’d never done a movie before.”
Silvestri was given complete creative freedom, while Ballard could do whatever they wanted. According to the composer, musical theatre is not like movies in that you cannot do close-ups, but it’s possible to pause and take a look inside a character singing a song. He said, “We do that throughout the musical.”
The duo became joint lyricists and composers. They picked up guitars and paper and began to sketch out each song. Apart from their work on the albums of Ringo Starr and Michael Jackson over the years Ballard also worked on Ghost the Musical. This gave Ballard a greater understanding of how to adapt classic films for the stage.
Marty McFly performing Johnny B Goode
Ballard shared with us that he found it suited perfectly for a two-act musical. He said, “We go to eighties and go to fifties. We were able to get the flavors of both periods’ music from a musician’s perspective.
He also said that the Back to the Future theme song would be appearing. The musician continued, “We’re using this extensively throughout because every note of his music you hear you’re back at Hill Valley. We already own a time machine. It’s named Alan Silvestri. It was used in a beautiful and strategic way. We interwoven new songs with it and still have all the classics of the film: Power of Love and Johnny B Goode. It was not something we wanted to move around. They should be firmly rooted in their place. It was a present for us.
Back To The Future the Musical was originally presented in Manchester, before moving to the West End. The pandemic caused North to be cut short and cast and crew remained in lockdown. Silvestri and Ballard worked on the music via Zoom during that long gap of a year.
He added, “We have been playing with it since!” It’s been a long process, and it’s all we have to do is refine it.
Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly
Apart from the original Back to the Future film stars Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, this musical was the first time Doc/Marty had been played live-action in real life by any other actor. The pressure was high to cast the right actors. The films have been so widely known that there wasn’t need for much explanation during auditions. Gale recalled that the characters became immediately familiar to them.
Marty McFly’s star Olly Dobson is a remarkably like Michael J Fox on stage. He saw Marty McFly as a child and wanted to become the time-travelling teenager. It was his dream. Back to the Future the Musical is now casting Roger Bart in Doc Brown. He was a star in the movie and stage versions of The Producers musical.
He also sang the role of Hercules as a Disney animated character. We asked him: “I watched it at the cinema with some of my friends in 1985, and it was amazing!” It was the perfect comedy.
While he was able to meet Christopher Lloyd in Manchester for the first season of Doc Brown, they never talked about Doc Brown’s role as much as their personal lives. Bart said that he gave Einstein some trouble for not treating him after sending him back to time in his DeLorean.
Marty McFly crash lands in 1955
Gale also asked the actors of Doc and Marty to play Doc and Marty in their roles on the stage. He told them to not imitate the movie’s counterparts, but make their characters theirs.
Bart was a dream actor, playing Doc in three different versions. Bart said, “There is the oldest Doc you meet first. Then there’s the young Doc, who’s flailing in the invention universe. Finally you get to meet the older Doc again. He has made adjustments.”
The musical theatre legend teased us with his solo numbers and said: “One is a fitting celebration of my latest invention, while the other is a glimpse into the world of someone who is not afraid to take risks …”
Bart said that he had a great experience working alongside Marty Dobson as Marty’s actor. He is a wonderful kid. “He’s an exceptional singer, and he’s always there with me on the stage.” There’s also the Back to the Future musical’s third star to be considered.
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The DeLorean Time Machine is another star of the show
The DeLorean time-machine from Back to the Future is without doubt one of the most iconic movie vehicles in film history. Although not all scenes from the film could be included in the musical, the fact that this car reached 88mph was unavoidable.
Gale said: “We had to make theatre work for us.” Gale also shared that they could not have a car chase scene with the Libyan nationalists or a skating scene to risk his Marty star getting injured.
He said, “But we also stated that we can’t have a DeLorean. It must be able to go at 88 mph. What are the best ways to achieve that speed? The answer? “I don’t know!” Let’s find the most qualified people and then say, “Here’s my challenge!” Find out how to do it. They did, and lo and behold!
Gale and his crew took as much time as necessary to create this show, which is evident in its stunning ending.
According to the Back to the Future creator, Zemeckis was moved to tears after seeing the production at Manchester’s first night. He later said: “It is as good as the film.”
Back to the Future the Musical is playing at the Adelphi Theatre in London and tickets can be booked here.
Publited Sat, 4 Sep 2021 at 19:37:00 +0000