Review: 20th Century Boy at the Bristol Hippodrome, Monday 12 - Saturday 17 May.
11:29am Tuesday 13th May 2014 in Theatre
THE story of Marc Bolan is the stuff of musical folklore.
Unlike other rock-star inspired musicals, this one really has a story to tell, so there is no need to make one up.
20th Century Boy is the story of the rise and demise of one of glam rock's greatest icons, told through the eyes of his son, Rolan Bolan, who was just two when his 29-year-old father died in a car crash. The car was driven by Marc's girlfriend and Rolan's mother, the soul diva Gloria Jone, who was also badly injured in the accident. Rolan, who was a toddler when Bolan died, and his quest to discover more about his famous father gives the narrative real impetus.
The Hippodrome was packed last night, as both Marc Bolan fans and theatre-goers joined to pay homage to one of British rock's greatest stars. Plenty of feather boas added to the atmosphere, and from the moment the curtain went up the audience was hooked.
The complex relationship between Rolan and his mother, and her relationship with Marc's parents Harry and Phyllis Field is central to making this musical work.
As is now usual for this type of production, video montage of Marc in his heyday sets the scene, and then we are taken back in time through his early years and his struggle to find an identity in London's swinging sixties through his marriage to June and the early days of Tyrannasaurous Rex - the little band with the big name - through to the mega success of T. Rex and his failure to 'break' America and his struggle with addictions.
Warren Sollars is makes an incredible Marc Bolan, which is never going to be an easy task for such an icon of the era (he isn't the man himself, so you can't go into the show expecting him to be!) and with the backing of a super strong cast which includes Lucy SInclair as June Child and Donna Hines as a glorious Gloria Jones, this is a real music-lover's musical.
Hit after hit takes you back through the decades, and whether you remember Bolan or not, you can't help but sing along to such hits as Metal Guru, Get It On, Ride A White Swan, Dreamy Lady, I Love To Boogie, Hot Love, and, of course, 20th Century Boy.
This is a heart-rending story, and if the final scenes have you reaching for the tissues then fear not, for this production is a real celebration of Bolan's life and music. The band really comes alive at the tail end of the show and there is dancing in the aisles - and plenty of waving of feather boas - as the hits are played out in real T.Rex style, leaving everyone with a smile on their face.