Round-up of reviews for The Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre
Sunny Afternoon opened last night (28 October 2014) at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End.
Following a sold-out run at Hampstead Theatre, the show has transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Sunny Afternoon features some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs and has music and lyrics by Ray Davies, a book by Joe Penhall based on the original story by Ray Davies and direction by Edward Hall.
A talented cast includes John Dagleish as Ray Davies, George Maguire as Dave Davies, Ned Derrington as Pete Quaife and Adam Sopp as Mick Avory.
Purchase the London cast recording of Sunny Afternoon: AMAZON
REVIEWS ROUND-UP"All musicals need a moment of ecstasy. It comes here, in this dazzling bio-show about Ray Davies and the Kinks, when the faintly languorous title song is turned into a celebration of England’s World Cup victory in 1966. As the song weaves its magic and red-white-and-blue petals cascade from the roof, the theatre is suddenly flooded with a sense of recollected happiness."
"This certainly isn’t your average greatest hits album crowbarred into a narrative of dubious quality. Instead, the songs enjoy a multitude of sophisticated arrangements, sometimes with just snatches played. When a number is given the full treatment by the top-notch quartet of actor-musicians who make up the band, it’s an utterly joyous sound."
"Alongside some interesting ideological clashes between socialism and trade unionism, Sunny Afternoon is a hymn to English musical individualism and artistic perseverance – all with the miniskirts and freshness of 1960s London. I predict 21st century-sized box office returns. This time let’s hope the Kinks get a fair slice."
"It is great fun. Miriam Buether’s Swinging Sixities designs are wonderful and the hit-packed last 20 minutes utterly joyous: it’s great that the bulk of the songs are blasted out in the bone-rattling style of a gig rather than being prettified for the theatre. Nonetheless, for all its stylish insouciance, I felt ‘Sunny Afternoon’ fell short on ambition. The Kinks’ story was a grand soap opera that stretched on for 30 years and would have been ripe for a ‘Jersey Boys’-style epic. Instead Penhall’s book is a simplistic, sentimental summary of their first two years that ends on a rather contrived high."
"Beside the composite jukeboxes made up of the songs of many artists like the Commitments or the tribute shows like Thriller Live, this does a lot more: it chronicles a biographical tale of the early career of the British band the Kinks and their front man and songwriter Davies, much in the way that Jersey Boys does for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons."
"Rightly raved about at Hampstead Theatre in May, and cannily whisked into the West End where it could run forever and a day, the Kinks’ musical Sunny Afternoon is a blazing triumph – as guaranteed to transport you to a state of paradisaical bliss as the fabled sight of a Waterloo sunset."
"A musical doesn’t have to be original to be stormingly successful – commercially or as a piece of work. Now transferred to the West End, Sunny Afternoon is, as the title suggests, a jukebox show featuring the songs of Ray Davies and telling his story and that of his band The Kinks through most of the 1960s: their rise and near-fall. That story hits pretty much all the rock-narrative archetypes, concentrating on “Will success spoil these down-to-earth boys?” and “What price integrity or even sanity?” Every step feels thoroughly familiar. And still it works fantastically well."
"Running a bit more than two and a half hours, “Sunny Afternoon” grows gloopy toward the end with melancholic numbers piling up before the band unleashes a charged encore medley. But the production has already extended by four months, and it figures: “Sunny Afternoon” is totally enjoyable. It’s just never essential."
"For a juke-box musical that gets the audience to its feet for the obligatory facsimile concert encore, this story tracing the rise to stardom of Sixties band the Kinks through their own hits – plus some new numbers by original singer-songwriter Ray Davies – is for the most part relentlessly downbeat."