In the quarter-century since Roddy Doyle wrote ‘The Commitments’, his hit first novel, it has been filmed and televised. Now it is a musical, adapted for the stage by Doyle himself, opening at the Palace Theatre in the heart of London’s West End.
Alan Parker’s 1991 film was a hit in its own right but featured a limited input from the author. For the musical award-winning director
Jamie Lloyd revealed Doyle went back to the novel’s source material to get it right.
‘‘All of the cast play the instruments, so you’re actually seeing a band being put together from scratch and you see that journey very, very specifically charted right from the off. From people who can’t really play the instruments, right to the end where they sound incredible, I think we chart that in an exciting way,” he said.
‘The Commitments’ is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young Irish working- class music fan, who unites a group of amateur musicians in 80s Dublin and turns them into an amazing soul outfit. The period piece allows for the liberal use of crowd-pleasing classics from the sixties from the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, and The Stones.
“We kind of have a 99 percent Irish cast, many of those from Dublin and many of them haven’t ever set foot on a stage before. So yeah, there is a risk involved but they work hard and they’re totally dedicated to it and they have learned a lot. And what you get for free I guess, is a kind of genuine enthusiasm, a real kind of youthful energy which I think is really infectious for an audience,” added Lloyd.
Preview ratings have been good and the much-loved story and format appear destined to deliver two hours and 20 minutes of quality entertainment.
Performances at the Palace are Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm.