In the first of his bestselling novels, The Commitments, which he wrote in 1987, Roddy Doyle brilliantly caught teenage passion for music and the giddy pleasure of forming your own band.
Now, director Caroline Jay Ranger has brought the book to life in an incredible musical which gets everyone’s lungs working to full capacity.
A group of young working-class Dubliners decide to form a band, which – to the delight of the audience – performed over 40 classic songs, including a hip thrusting rendition of Mick Jagger’s ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’ and a shoulder-shifting version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’.
Brian Gilligan is the perfect Deco; charmingly chubby and just the right side of obnoxious - it’s worth the ticket price alone just to watch him sing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” whilst eating his way through a bag of chips.
Another stand-out performance was Sam Fordham’s Mickah - the ultimate skin head with a soft(ish) heart. He has a unique method of getting the audience to applause to the ‘hardest working band in Ireland’s’ songs, just imagine Sam Dingle from Emmerdale if he had got hold of some hard drugs.
Coronation Street legend, Kevin Kennedy, stars in the critically acclaimed musical alongside many of the cast from the record-breaking show’s two year run at London’s Palace Theatre, including Brian Gilligan who will reprise his starring role of Deco and Andrew Linnie as Jimmy Rabbitte.
Kevin takes the role of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da in the show that is written by Roddy Doyle, the author of the best-selling novel of the same name.
Roddy Doyle said: “The Commitments were born in Dublin, moved to London, and will soon be hopping all over the shop. I wrote the novel – invented the characters – in 1986, and it thrills me to think that they will be entertaining audiences throughout the UK and Ireland 30 years later, in 2016.”
Kevin Kennedy won the hearts of the nation when he starred as Curly Watts in Coronation Street. Since leaving Coronation Street, Kevin has regularly appeared in theatre productions including: Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and We Will Rock You.
Kevin said: “After working abroad, I am delighted to be returning to such an iconic musical as The Commitments. It is a pleasure to travel around the country playing to enthusiastic audiences who love this show.”
The Commitmentettes – the ladies with the perfect blend of Irish charm and working class grit - bring the whole ensemble together, keeping the group on the brink of unity through the shared admiration of their looks, if nothing else. Don’t be misled by their pretty faces though – these girls can certainly belt out the tunes.
You will no doubt fall in love with The Commitments if you are lucky enough to see them in Leeds this winter.
With plenty of humour, drama, history and, of course, a hit soundtrack to sit back and enjoy (or stand up and dance to), this is one stage performance the whole family will love.
Who are The Commitments?
The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians and friends into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.
The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesizer band - the opening scene we find them playing but being ignored in a shop window - who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.
Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a number of wannabes before finalising the new line up who he names The Commitments.
The humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, and proceed through early rehearsals for their first gig.
Just as they improve and begin to get a name for themselves they combust. The backing singers are all getting off with the middle aged horn legend, the singer has entered Eurovision and the saxophone player has dangerous leaning towards a jazz career.
The show runs at the Leeds grand Theatre until 10th December with tickets priced between £24.00 and £49.50.