Reviewed by David Smith
Matt Byrne has gathered a large cast of enthusiastic and energetic performers for his production of this iconic 1970s musical. There’s plenty of life in the show, especially in the large ensemble numbers. Paul Sinkinson’s secure musical direction supported the cast all along, and Sarah Williams’ choreography turned the big songs into exciting show stoppers.
Sebastian Cooper certainly looked the part as Tony. He sang and danced smoothly and, especially in Act 2, grew in conviction to the point of being very affecting. His rendition of Immortality and How Deep Is Your Love were very moving. Opposite him, Amber Skye Ashley Platten as Stephanie and Lauren Noble as Annette effectively contrasted with each other and brought heart and authenticity to their scenes and songs.
As Tony’s side-kicks Jonathan Dragt as Double J, Anthony Butler as Joey and Iman Saleh as Bobbi C were convincingly and enthusiastically smart-mouthed and sassy. Saleh was particularly poignant in his later scenes.
Matthew Pugsley was entirely credible as Tony’s brother Frank Jr, who left the priesthood. He provided a comforting touchstone for Tony, and kept him grounded.
Apart from a few hesitant scene changes, the production moved along at a good pace. It is a long show and the company did well to move through the occasional awkward transitions presented by the script, and its sequence of multiple, often very brief scenes.
Overall, this is a musical noted mostly for its music, and Matt Byrne Media brought that to us in great style.
Seb Cooper as Tony