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The Commitments - Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury.

The world's hardest working band is bringing soul to the people of Buckinghamshire as The Commitments play Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury this week. If you need a bit of soul in your life and want a sing-a-long to Mustang Sally, you’ve come to the right place.

This heart-warming show, set in the mid 1980’s. tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working-class music fan, who transforms an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, which becomes the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

This production is jam-packed with soul classics. It has all your favorites’ that you expect to hear, but also includes more than 20 soul classics, including Proud Mary, Try A Little Tenderness, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Think, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Reach Out – I’ll Be There, Uptight, Knock On Wood, I Can't Turn You Loose and even a bit of the Rolling Stones Satisfaction done in a very soulful way.

Jimmy was played by James Killeen and does an outstanding job. He is on stage for most of the show and is trying so very hard to keep the band together but at every turn, he encounters another problem. He does remind me of Stephen Mangan in his looks, and I really enjoyed James’ performance, even down to the ‘I wish I could f@@king sing’ comment. Deco is played tonight by James Deegan and is a perfect Deco…and I mean that in the nicest possible way. He shows us his belly more than once and is in your face to many of the band members. Exactly as annoying as Deco should be. When James sings It’s a thin line between love and hate, I was blown away. Such a beautiful voice and so much soul it must be illegal. Whatever he is selling, I am buying because when he sings at you…wow. I loved his performance.

All three commitmentettes are magnificent. Imelda is played by Ciara Mackey; Natalie is played tonight by Maryann Lynch and Bernie is played by Sarah Gardiner. They all have their own distinctive personalities and can all sing beautifully but their harmonies together are just heavenly. One of my favourite scenes is the description of why they play soul and not jazz that the sax player is leaning towards. Brother Joey explains soul music has corners. Jazz is’ Wa@king music’. It’s too intellectual; It is abstract and doesn’t say anything. Totally right brother Joey. I also love, love, love the audition scene. So much great 80’s music sung badly. I think I could easily audition for one of the bad singers – I am way worse than anyone on that stage. Actually, the whole cast are exceptional…I would be writing an essay to name them all but everyone added to the show and gave us all a fabulous time.

The Commitments is playing Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury until 4 February 2023.

I promise you will go home singing!


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