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Greater London
posted/updated: 29 Mar 2017 - edit review / upload photos
Sunny Afternoon
Music & lyrics by Ray Davies. Book by Joe Penhall. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Ambassador Theatre Group.
society/company: New Wimbledon Theatre (professional) (directory)
performance date: 28 Mar 2017
venue: New Wimbledon Theatre
reviewer/s: Diana Eccleston (Sardines review)


Sunny Afternoon tour: Garmon Rhys (Pete Quaife), Ryan O'Donnell (Ray Davies), Andrew Gallo (Mick Avory) and Mark Newnham (Dave Davies). Photo: Kevin Cummings

How very appropriate that as this juggernaut of a musical tours the country, Ray Davies - front man and creative genius of 60s sensation The Kinks - has just received a knighthood.

The band, led by Ray and his crazy younger brother, captured the zeitgeist of the 60s. As teenagers we loved their sound but I for one never analysed why.

Now, looking back thanks to this show created by Ray Davies, I can understand why the band was mega back then and why the boys' music is still so potent 50 years on.

It has everything to guarantee endurance. Apart from the Kinks' unique sound, Ray's lyrics could be ironic, socially observant, funny, gentle, rebellious, poetic. And he loved London, Waterloo Sunset being almost a hymn to our capital city.

The story starts with the lads at home in Muswell Hill with their parents and six older sisters trying to hone the sound of their music.
It charts the group's highs and lows and how, thanks to union pay disputes, they were banned from the USA at huge cost to themselves.

I knew none of this back in the day, but then all we teenagers wanted was the music, not the back story.

Target audience for the show seems definitely to be the silver-haired brigade such as myself who remember the swinging 60s, but it really is a musical for everyone and was recognised as such when it was named the Olivier Best New Musical of 2015 during its London run at the Harold Pinter Theatre after transferring from its birthplace at Hampstead.

It demands huge amounts of talent from its stars: singing, playing their instruments and oodles of energy.

Here Ryan O'Donnell has the look as well as the demeanour of Ray while Mark Newnham has the showiest role as dangerous Dave the Rave, always on the edge with drink, drugs and sex but producing incredible riffs on his lead guitar.

All the ensemble are terrific and with the book by Joe Penhall, direction by Edward Hall and choreography by Adam Cooper the dream team is complete.

Most of the hits are included, extraordinarily well recreated.
It would be a brave and brilliant amateur company ever to take on Sunny Afternoon, though I'm sure one will, one day.

All I can say to all concerned is:
"Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day, believe me."









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