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.
Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] reviews
"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."
"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."
"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). "
"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."
"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."
"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"
MAIL ON SUNDAY
"A raucous New Labour spoof that's not afraid of a cheap laugh"
"This is a raucous spoof musical at the expense of New Labour and the embarrassing era of Cool Britannia. It’s good to see a show – a rock satire with a hint of summer panto – that cheerfully gives New Labour a kicking on the 25th anniversary of its landslide Election."
"I especially enjoyed Gary Trainor’s Gordon Brown. He scowls with every gloomy Scottish utterance – a man you’d never confuse with a ray of sunshine."
"With music and lyrics by Steve Brown and direction by Peter Rowe, this pocket musical has echoes of Hamilton, Les Mis and Sweeney Todd, and comes with generic choreography and tonsil-exposure, apeing West End overkill."
"... comedian Harry Hill and composer Steve Brown’s Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) is a new, fresh, multitasking musical, exuberantly directed by Peter Rowe."
"Blair is played by Charlie Baker with engaging cheesiness and an ingratiatingly asinine smile. What makes his performance disarmingly hilarious is that he presents Blair as a dolt and not free of self-doubt..."
"Do not expect subtle political analysis here as Blair’s decade in power is retraced – and be braced for weapons of mass destruction doubling as effortless gags. But Hill is on to something, as this simple exchange reveals: Tony: “The people like me, Gordon.” Gordon: “That’s because they don’t know you.”"
"Harry Hill's musical takes bite out of Blair"
"Verdict: Joyfully profane tonic"
"All hail Harry Hill and his musical writing partner Steve Brown. At last they have purged me of the pain of those ten long years under Tony Blair's New Labour — thanks to their gleefully childish and daringly taboo rock opera spoof of Tony's life. I was laughing so much I struggled to swallow my beer."
"From the moment Tony, played by Charlie Baker, is born — a big cheesy grin already plastered on his face — I knew I was in for a treat. And so it proved, with fizzingly scathing lyrics from the raucous opening title number to Holly Sumpton, sashaying on as a saucy Scouser, singing a cod French chanson Ma Nom Est Cherie.Nor is the show constrained by sacred cows. Like the best satire, it is cruel."
"Satisfyingly, Hill and Brown don't duck the issues of Tony's four wars (Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq); or his backbenchers trade-off with a ban on fox hunting."
"Tony Blair lives on in song"
"No one is spared in Harry Hill’s New Labour rock opera"
"After the self-polishing piety of so much recent theatre it is a pleasure to report on a musical that takes a truly egalitarian approach to satire. Harry Hill’s Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera is rude about everyone. It is as spikily inventive as Spitting Image at its I’ve Never Met a Nice South African peak. The production values may be cheap, the opening scenes drag and the actor playing Tony (Charlie Baker) looks nothing like our sainted former prime minister, but none of that matters. With so much drippy anguish polluting the English stage, this is a snorting tonic."