Thirteenth in a series of Broadway reports
NEW YORK – “Back to the Future: The Musical” is off to a swift start. Based on the movie starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the show is soaring to hitsville while still in previews at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. (Formal opening night is Aug. 3).
Seriously, however, the production is all about the car. Yes, the DeLorean from the 1985 movie is back, and it’s roaring and soaring and seemingly flying, thanks to technology.
Casey Likes is Marty McFly, Roger Bart is Doc Brown, in “Back to the Future: The Musical.”
Roger Bart, who originated the role of Doc Brown in London, has been transported to America. But Marty McFly, the character played by Fox in the flick and Olly Dobson in London, had to be a bona fide American, so Casey Likes, most recently in “Almost Famous,” likely will be Fully Famous in the months ahead, with diehard fans of the franchise flocking to the Winter Garden.
The DeLorean is the the star of the show, a “character” of sorts.
The key attraction will be the winged vehicle, which varooms and seemingly defies gravity, returning to 1955. Fans are howling with frenzied delight, even if the time travel vehicle is stationary, seemingly moving because of blurry, wheezing special effects that give it life with the help of flashing lights and smoke. The vehicle is said to be a $300,000 piece of scenery – but it can spin, tilt, and revolve. For the record, the DeLorean remains on stage, within the proscenium stage. It doesn’t actually fly. It will become a costly investment to build more DeLoreans, since “Future” has at least eight international productions planned with additional North American companies envisioned.
I do remember a “flying” vehicle in a show years ago, one that elevated (via hydraulics) over the orchestra audience – a fake flight, but nonetheless overhead, and thrilling.
Written by Robert Zemekis and Bob Gale, who created the film version, the stage show sticks to the familiar tale. Gale wrote the book, too, and music is by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard.
McFly (Casey Likes) rocks on, in an early scene of “Future.”
When the play opens, Marty McFly is visiting his friend Doc Brown’s lab, rocking out a tune with a guitar on steroids. The set is a brilliant hodge-podge of stuff, and Likes is a suitable teenager doing youthful things like auditioning for a show.
He is the John Travolta to Mikaela Secada’s Jennifer Parker, who is the Olivia Newton John, a cute teen tale couple, whose “Wherever We’re Going” duet reflects their easy-going life. There is somewhat of an unstated undercurrent that is hard to overcome: every role and many moments of the show are haunted by the iconic original film and actors. A tough act to follow.
“Future” has a lot of musical numbers but lacks the vibe of becoming hits.
Natch, the McFly clan returns – George McFly, dad of Mary, Dave, and Linda McFly, and husband of Lorraine Baines McFly – and the clocktower is back too, complete with the requisite lightning show.
There’s a lot of songs that don’t necessarily stay with you after the show. Likes’ rockin’ “Johnny B. Goode” and Marvin Berry’s (Jelani Remy) “Earth Angel,” are oldies but goodies in the soundtrack – a reminder that nostalgia requires songs from memory lane. None of the new numbers seem to have that vibe to become a breakout singular sensation.
A few techies are also “stars” in that their craftsmanship is fuel for the DeLorean. Sound designer Gareth Owen, lighting designers Tim Lutkin and Hugh Vanstone, and video designer Finn Ross are the magicians who bring life and motion to the vehicle.
When all is said, “Future” will be all about the car. It doesn’t speak, but it is rightfully a character of its own. …
‘Back to the Future’
“Back to the Future: The Musical,” based on the Universal film written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, is a new musical with book by Bob Gale and music by Ala Silvestri and Glen Ballard.
Directed by John Rando, and choreographed by Chris Bailey, with music conducted by Ted Arthur
Previewing at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, with a formal opening on Aug. 3
Broadway grosses, week ending July 9
The future looks good for “Back to the Future: The Musical,” now in previews en route to its formal Aug. 3 opening night at the Winter Garden Theatre.
In its two-week run, for the week ending July 9, the show, based on the movie that starred Michael J. Fox, the musical already made the million-dollar club, meaning its gross has topped $1.222 million, earning the No. 9 spot on the top ten.
We list the Top 7 every week, and these were the leaders:
1—“The Lion King, $2.132 million.
2 – “Wicked,” $1.967 million.
3 – “Hamilton,” $1.855 million.
4 – “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.740 million.
5 – “MJ, the Michael Jackson Musical,” $1.540 million.
6 – “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $1.464 million.
7 – “Moulin Rouge,” $1.175 million.
Here’s the complete list, courtesy The Broadway League.”
And that’s Show Biz. …