And I certainly wasn’t disappointed as the cast released many hits (River Deep, Mountain High; Papa Was A Rolling Stone; Mustang Sally; Knock On Wood; Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours; and many more. others) to have the audience cheering, standing up and wanting more on Monday’s opening night.
The musical Commitments was adapted from the novel by Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle. It tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working-class music fan, who transforms an unlikely group of amateur musicians into a superb live act – even though it looks like it could implode at any moment due to the many conflicts of personality within the group. .
Placing a classified ad in a music newspaper, Jimmy (James Killeen) auditions a number of wannabes before finalizing the members of his new band, which he names “The Commitments”. The audition process is wacky as the budding singers show up at her parents’ house eager to impress. It’s here that we meet ‘Da’ (Corrie’s Nigel Pivaro) who is excellent as Jimmy’s grumpy father who isn’t always too fond of his son’s musical tastes.
Eventually, Jimmy settles on a line-up that includes lead singer Deco (Ian McIntosh) who made an impression on him after he drunkenly sang at a party.
The group is truly a bunch of misfits that Jimmy struggles to control. Deco is introduced to the other members as he picks his nose, and then aging musician Joey The Lips (Stuart Reid) receives a “this is my grandfather back from the dead” greeting.
They hold their own during the first few rehearsals, testing everyone’s patience, including Deco storming out after being unimpressed with the saxophonist’s perceived limits… “Have we broken up yet?” is the hilarious reaction from one of the band members.
In fact, the entire production is littered with witty moments between brilliant music led by Ian McIntosh’s Deco, but with great backing from backing vocals Natalie (Eve Kitchingman), Imelda (Ciara Mackey) and Bernie (Sarah Gardiner) .
The infighting continues – largely over Joey hooking up with the singers, but at least he buys them all tokens to keep them tuned in while they practice, which leads to a hilarious rendition of I Heard It Through The Grapevine while Deco stuffs his face with chips!
Another brilliant character introduced midway through the first act is the shaven-headed Mickah (Ronnie Yorke), initially cast by Jimmy as a bouncer who is powerfully scary and wants to fight anyone who looks at him, but has a hidden talent so can fill. an important role after the departure of a member of the group.
The Commitments are touted as the hardest working band in the world, but it’s certainly the hardest job Jimmy can get – and James Killen pulls off the beleaguered band’s manager superbly.
The rousing finale capped off a memorable evening, so I’m glad I made the commitment to see the show.