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Back to the Future: The Musical
Original Cast Recording


Music and Lyrics: Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard
Book: Bob Gale
Performed by: Olly Dobson, Roger Bart, Hugh Coles, Rosanna Hyland, Cedric Neal and Aidan Cutler
Label: Masterworks Broadway
RRP: £11.99
Release Date: 11 March 2022

Masterworks Broadway is delighted to announce the release of the Original Cast Recording of the stage musical based on the 1985 science-fiction adventure film Back to the Future. The production is staged at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End and features new music by multi-Grammy winners Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard (The Polar Express), alongside hit songs from the movie. The show moved to the West End following an out-of-town opening in March 2020 at the Manchester Opera House, where it was enthusiastically received by critics and public alike. Behind this eagerly anticipated stage show are producer Colin Ingram (Ghost: The Musical) and Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the creators of the Back to the Future film trilogy. The musical stars Olly Dobson as Marty McFly, Roger Bart as Doc Brown, Hugh Coles as George McFly, Rosanna Hyland as Lorraine Baines, Cedric Neal as Goldie Wilson / Marvin Berry, Aidan Cutler as Biff Tannen, Courtney-Mae Briggs as Jennifer Parker and Mark Oxtoby as Mr Strickland…

Great Scott! They’ve only gone and made a stage musical out of one of my favourite films! Now you’ve gotta come back with me. Where? Back to the future!

The idea of doing a musical theatre version of Back to the Future may seem strange at first, but in fact the source material lends itself well to such treatment. The movie is very strong musically, thanks to a memorable incidental score by Alan Silvestri and the inclusion of pop music tracks from the 1950s and 1980s. Silvestri’s instrumental music comes to the fore in the opening “Overture”; “Don’t Drive 88!”, in which Marty goes for his fateful drive in the DeLorean; the poignant “The Letter”; the climactic “The Clocktower”; “Doc Returns” and “Exit Music (Back in Time)”, all of which are performed to rousing effect by the Back to the Future Band.

Of the existing songs from the film, Huey Lewis and the News’s “The Power of Love” can be heard in part during “Audition” and in full towards the end of the production, performed by Olly Dobson as Marty. Dobson also sings Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. The Penguins’ “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” is also included, performed by Cedric Neal as Marvin Berry, but is partly interrupted and obscured by dialogue and incidental music. The songs are rounded off by another Huey Lewis and the News track, “Back in Time”, sung by Olly Dobson and Roger Bart. In the accompanying booklet, Bob Gale explains why “Mr. Sandman” did not make the final version of the musical.

A couple of numbers turn instrumental compositions into songs. In “It’s Only a Matter of Time”, Glen Ballard adds lyrics (sung by Olly Dobson) to Silvestri’s Back to the Future theme, while “Deep Divin’” (performed by Cedric Neal) is very similar to Oscar Washington, Lewis P. Simpkins and Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train”, which was played during the cinematic version of the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.

However, my favourite songs are a couple of uplifting tracks sung by Roger Bart as Doc Brown. “It Works” encapsulates the Doc’s enthusiastic glee regarding his new invention. There’s some great humour here, as Dobson and Bart break the fourth wall by acknowledging the presence of the backing singers (Emma Lloyd, Rhianne Alleyne, Laura Mullowney, Alessia McDermott, Katharine Pearson, Courtney Mae-Briggs, Nic Myers, Amy Barker and Melissa Rose). “Hey, Doc,” asks Marty, “Who are the girls?” “I dunno,” replies the scientist, “They just show up every time I start singing!”

Later on, “21st Century” conveys Doc Brown’s excitement about what the future holds. It’s a very 1950s vision of a utopian future free from war, hunger and the need to work, with flying cars and everyday trips to Mars. (This contrasts well with “Cake”, a witty ditty performed by Olly Dobson, Katharine Pearson, Will Haswell, Shane O’Riordan and Mark Oxtoby, in which 1950s characters extol the virtues of gasoline, cigarettes, asbestos and DDT.) The opening instrumentation of “21st Century” sounds like the theme to Rick and Morty – which, I suppose, is only fair, given the debt that animated show owes to Back to the Future! Musically, the rest of the track is strongly reminiscent of Cliff Richard’s 1981 single “Wired for Sound” – an apt touchpoint, given that Richard’s career has spanned the 1950s to the present day and his song taps into a decidedly 1980s form of futurism.

Another musical influence is Grease, and again it’s a highly appropriate one, as the film covers a similar timeframe to Back to the Future, being a 1978 movie set in 1958. It’s easy to imagine Olivia Newton-John belting out Lorraine’s ode “Pretty Baby” (performed by Rosanna Hyland, backed by Rhianne Alleyne, Laura Mullowney, Katharine Pearson, Emma Lloyd, Alessia McDermott, Courtney Mae-Briggs, Nic Myers, Amy Barker and Melissa Rose) or John Travolta and co singing “Teach Him a Lesson” (performed by Aidan Cutler, Will Haswell and Shane O’Riordan). The latter is amusing, as Biff’s gang correct the bully’s nonsensical turns of phrase throughout. These two parties come together, “Summer Nights” style, in “Something About That Boy”, in which Lorraine and Biff offer their opposing views on that strange new visitor to Hill Valley known as Calvin Klein.

In fact, most of the songs on this album are enjoyable, though a few of them, including “Got No Future” (sung by Olly Dobson), “Put Your Mind to It” (Olly Dobson and Hugh Coles) and “For the Dreamers” (Roger Bart) feel more generic.

As well as being great singers, the cast also make a real effort to sound like the characters from the original trilogy – especially Olly Dobson as Marty, Hugh Coles as George, Rosanna Hyland as Lorraine and Emma Lloyd as Linda. Roger Bart, meanwhile, puts a slightly different spin on Doc Brown, managing to give an even larger performance than Christopher Lloyd, being both more high-pitched and more growly than Lloyd ever was, but no less amusing for it.

A few plot details have been changed for the musical version. (This is heavy!) Instead of being gunned down by Libyan terrorists, Doc Brown is irradiated by his own plutonium. This does beg the question of how the scientist was able to obtain the material in the first place and why he wasn’t more careful when handling it – though the change is understandable as it makes for a more family-friendly show. Obviously, the writers thought the inclusion of terrorists would be a bit too heavy!

Less forgivable is the fact that in 1985 Goldie Wilson appears to be running for mayor for the first time, whereas in the film he was campaigning to be re-elected, having already been in office. This sends out a less progressive message about a black man’s opportunities in America.

Despite the above issues, I really enjoyed Back to the Future: The Musical. For the most part, it works, it works, it works!


Richard McGinlay

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