Tony [The Tony Blair Rock Opera]

Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) reviews – Park Theatre 2022 ★★★

Reviews are coming in for Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) at the Park Theatre in London.

Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s new rock opera parodies the former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and his years in government. It’s at the Park Theatre until 9 July 2022 with tickets available here.

Is the show really a rock opera? Brown’s score covers a lot more ground, tossing in echoes of classic musical theatre from a sultry Cole Porter number to the astringent harmonies of Stephen Sondheim.

The cast is led by Charlie Baker as Blair and Gary Trainer as Gordon Brown. Rounding out the cast are Holly Sumpton (Cherie Blair), Kaye Brown (Robin Cook), Martin Johnston (Neil Kinnock), Howard Samuels (Peter Mandelson ), Rosie Strobel (John Prescott) and Madison Swain (Princess Diana),Marisa Harris and Charles Angiama.

Written by Harry Hill with music and lyrics by Steve Brown. Directed by Peter Rowe with set & costume design by Libby Watson, musical direction by Oli Jackson, lighting design by Mark Dymock, sound design by Andre T and choreography by Francesca Jaynes.

Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) is booking until 9 July 2022 at the Park Theatre, London.

Average Critics Rating

Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) reviews

The Times

"Harry Hill’s manic humour demolishes the former PM"

"To call Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s portrait of the former prime minister a hatchet job would be an understatement. It’s a dodgy dossier of a show which depicts New Labour’s leader as the emptiest of empty suits."

"It is, however, very witty and tuneful too. Hill, who wrote the book, has never been to everyone’s taste — the little boy inside him is always desperate to make burping noises — but if you’re a fan of his brand of comedy you’ll warm to this venture."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Telegraph

"Begins promisingly, then outstays its welcome"

"Harry Hill and composer Steve Brown’s musical is intermittently inspired but winds up echoing the failings of TB’s divisive premiership"

"Much as I’d like to report a palpable hit – Lord knows, we all need cheering up – like TB’s premiership Tony! begins promisingly, moves into a disappointing phase and then outstays its welcome.

Tonally, it’s semi-successful. Given what a figure of opprobrium Blair became, it balances a need to keep us on-side, and woo us with charm, while holding the busted flush at arm’s length. It doesn’t help that a resolutely beaming Charlie Baker in the title role is actually a closer facial match to Gordon Brown. What’s trickier is that the show struggles to shift out of a cartoon register – you want it to sound the complexities of Blair’s tenure, but it mainly sticks to “yah boo” satire."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Guardian

"Harry Hill puts the party into politics"

"Co-written by Hill and Steve Brown, this is a messy jamboree-bag of songs and silliness that pokes enjoyable fun at the messianic ex-PM"

"Baker just about holds together a production with the jamboree-bag messiness of a student revue or a children’s party (there is balloon modelling courtesy of Peter Mandelson). The 10-strong cast, dressed uniformly in Blair’s suit and red tie, play everyone from Neil Kinnock to Diana, Princess of Wales (a standout turn from Madison Swan). "

Ryan Gilbey, The Guardian
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The Stage

"An unrelenting stream of obvious jokes"

"Harry Hill’s musical about the the former prime minister is overlong and obvious"

"It’s a funny idea, turning the story of Tony Blair into a rock musical. The problem is nothing else in the show is as funny as its concept."

"The songs aren’t bad. Brown can write a tune. He takes off Gilbert and Sullivan, baroque arias, tangos, big chorus-line numbers. Some are pleasantly daft, such as the recitative set to a verbatim speech by Gordon Brown on macroeconomics. Others are catchy, including the Monty Python-esque closing number, part of a naffly serious ending that asks us to ponder our culpability in electing tossers. But competent pastiche isn’t enough, and no song earns its place or has much to say."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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The Evening Standard

"Slapdash New Labour musical feels like a student drama group spoof"

"Harry Hill’s musical spoof about Britain’s most successful – and most reviled – Labour PM is packed with witty lyrics. It features one absolute belter of a song, and a ton of bad-taste gags about Princess Diana’s death, 9/11 and the Iraq War. All stuff I would usually love."

"It’s also wilfully slapdash; full of mugging, bovine hoofing and terrible wigs: the sort of thing you’d expect from a precocious student drama group. Without Hill’s name attached as writer – the heavy lifting of the music and lyrics were handled by his long-term collaborator Steve Brown – I doubt it would have found a stage-slot in London, let alone a celeb-stuffed crowd like last night’s."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Financial Times

"Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) — a premier painted in broad strokes"

"his lively show at the Park Theatre, London, is an unsubtle portrait of the Labour leader"

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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📷 Main photo: Tony [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] at the Park Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet

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