Tonight’s the Night Edinburgh Playhouse

Calling all Rod Stewart fans: get yourselves along to see this show, you will have a ball! This is a show which will especially appeal to Rod fans, based as it is around a selection of his greatest hits, but it will also appeal to all lovers of musicals and those who want an uncomplicated great night out. Written by former standup comedian Ben Elton, who also penned the highly successful musical We Will Rock You based on the songs of Queen, Tonight was first staged in London’s West End 2003 and is still going strong. The story, such as it is, is pretty thin but it serves its purpose as a vehicle for the music and it rattles along at a great pace. Elton’s comedic background shines through in the dialogue with some great one-liners which add to the fun.

Stuart is a shy, geeky garage mechanic who is in love with Mary but can’t pluck up the courage to tell her. He makes a pact with the devil to trade his soul for the soul of his idol, Rod Stewart, which gives him all the confidence and success he wants and more but, as inevitably happens in these satanic deals, it doesn’t all turn out as he had imagined. He finds success with his music and with women but he is not totally comfortable in Rod’s skin – he can’t find inner peace or happiness with the woman he really loves until he goes back to being himself. Moral of the story – be true to yourself. There is only room for one Rod Stewart in the world and no-one can take his place.

The heart of the show is the music. From the opening scene in a Detroit garage (perfect setting for the opening song Gasoline Alley), we know we are in for a musical treat. The musicians are seated above the stage at the centre of the action and feature a tight band of talented musicians – drums, keyboard, guitars and, of course, mandolin. The music doesn’t swamp the singing as can often happen in musical theatre, and the singing is excellent. Ben Heathcote, as Stuart, sounds uncannily like a young Rod Stewart and he has the body and the moves to match. Jade Ewen (Dee Dee) is an ex Eurovision contestant (don’t hold that against her) and Sugababe – her rendition of The First Cut is the Deepest is spine tingling. There’s a great rendition of Maggie May and lots of other old favourites which by the end have the audience on their feet and enthusiastically joining in with the final medley.

This show has got everything – great songs, great singers, some sexy, sassy dancers, male and female. The only thing missing is Rod himself. The PR issued before the show hinted that the great man himself might make an appearance during the run. Well, it didn’t happen the night I went so you never know you may be lucky when you go along!

Irene Brownlee