The Kinks. I bet you can name one or two of their hits! Well Sunny Afternoon is a brand new musical featuring the music of The Kinks and this show has really got me!
The show tells the story of two brothers, Ray and Dave. Two very different personalities and yet despite sibling rivalry they show compassion and support for each other when the other one needs it. Ray played by Ryan O’Donnell is fabulous in the role of the conscientious and emotionally withdrawn Ray, the older brother. His voice is fantastic but his compassion for the role makes you fall in head over heels in love with him. He is a perfect leading man. When he winked into the audience you feel it is to you personally. His brother Dave is played by Mark Newnham. Dave is a rowdy loud drunk teenager who indulges with everything he can get his hands on. The total opposite to Ray. Mark plays him beautifully and gets a lot of the best lines in the show as he also gives some great comedic quips such as ‘Keith Moon drove a brand new car into his swimming pool, what have you done lately?’ Mark’s portrayal of Dave reminds me of Jay from The Inbetweeners, (another fabulous comedian) but Mark gives Dave a great twist with his humour and is ‘a dedicated follower of fashion!’
The two brothers decide to make a band and add a drummer and a guitarist to play their version of songs and ‘keep it real’. Pete and Robert. Pete is a guitarist and played by Garmon Rhys. He really wants to fit in and is an all-round nice guy. Mick is the drummer (played by Andrew Gallo) and he and Dave have a hate/hate relationship. It does make the band turbulent at times but as most bands would say – that’s just how it is. They are managed by two Tories (their words), Grenville Collins (played by Tomm Coles) and Robert Wace (played by Joseph Richardson) who don’t really know what is going on but have connections to those who do. You can see how easily bands lose their money when everyone takes a cut. Especially when they add publisher Eddie Kassner (played by Michael Warburton). Ray falls for Rasa who is played by Lisa Wright and what a voice of an angel she has. Along with great acting abilities she easily steals the show.What makes this show brilliant is the atmosphere. It feels like you have been transported back to the 1960’s. The excitement of being young, the fun and frolics of being in a band and of course the fashions.But at the heart of this show is the music. Even if you can only name a couple of Kinks songs you will enjoy this show. It has feel-good stamped all over it. As someone who wasn’t born when The Kinks were famous, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this show but I was educated to learn that Stop your sobbing and I go to sleep were by The Kinks and NOT by The Pretenders. It features all the big hits including You really got me, All day and all of the night, Waterloo Sunset, Dedicated follower of fashion and of course Sunny Afternoon.The cast are all so talented, they all take turns singing, dancing and playing all the instruments as well as acting. The same faces keep turning up playing different characters which may give some shows a parochial feel but I felt it made the show feel more intimate. This is a great show and will easily be as successful as Jersey Boys.
If you lived through the sixties or even if you have never been to a Kinks gig, this is your chance to experience it first-hand. To feel the excitement of the 1966 world cup, the vibrancy of the fashions and feeling special to a heartthrob. There is no doubt that Ray Davies was a musical genius and the music of The Kinks stand the test of time. And throwing knickers on stage is totally optional!
This review originally featured on the About Milton Keynes website.