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REVIEW - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera (Musical Theatre) [Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023]

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

⭐⭐⭐

REVIEW - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera, Musical Theatre, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023.

Tony! recounts the life story of Britain’s first pop Prime Minister, Tony Blair.


In this new musical by Harry Hill and Steve Brown, we meet Tony Blair (Jack Whittle) as he looks back on his life from his deathbed. Through his politics, religion, his romance with Cherie; through song and a little bit of dance - we find out how Blair went from peace-loving hippy, to warmongering multimillionaire in just a couple of decades.


As you would expect from Hill and Brown, the production is full of comedy and satire, much of which comes from the cast of characters that surround Tony's life. John Prescott, Osama bin Laden, George W Bush and Gordon Brown – even Princess Diana makes an appearance. (Though this isn't my favourite 'Lady Di' portrayal I've seen this week.)


Jack Whittle is excellent as Tony Blair. His facial expressions are priceless, and he fully commits to being the showbiz, rockstar front man of The Labour Party.


I didn't know that Tori Burgess was in this production, and so what a delight it was to see her knock it out the park as Cherie Blair.


But it was Howard Samuels as Peter Mandelson (and others) who stole the show for me. A exceptional actor and mischievous performer; every moment he was on stage was a joy.

REVIEW - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera, Musical Theatre, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023.

Generally, however, Tony! wasn't as funny as I had anticipated. Amusing yes, but I don't think I ever truly laughed out loud. I do also think that the audience needs to know their history and politics to fully appreciate much of the humour. For example: It was clever that John Smith only had a few seconds of stage time. I'm old enough to remember his stint as leader of the opposition, and what happened to cut that short... But will younger audiences?


The actors on stage are backed by an excellent live band. Being billed as 'a rock opera' and seeing the full band on stage at the start, my expectations were suitably high. But honestly, I was disappointed. We didn't get an epic rock soundtrack to rival Quadrophenia, American Idiot or Jesus Christ Superstar; rather the songs were largely forgettable. Not bad by any means; they were fine and without exception, performed well. But there were just one or two standout tracks in the mix; 'Be Somebody' and the final showstopping number 'The World is run by....' included. These made me pine for what could have been...


I did see the 90 minute version of this show: Were the other rock bangers and laugh-out-loud moments cut? All the elements for success are here: A great cast, an awesome band, good production values and two very fine skilled and funny writers at the helm - but it just fell short of the mark for me. I still had a good night, I really enjoyed the show and I can't imagine anyone better to play Blair. I just didn't love it as much as I had hoped. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

⭐⭐⭐


When and Where?

Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Until 27th August 2023 (not 14th, 21st)

Time: varies

Venue: Pleasance at EICC - Pentland Theatre

REVIEW - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera, Musical Theatre, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023.
 

🌟REVIEW - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera (Musical Theatre) [Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023]🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I am an Edinburgh Festival Fringe accredited media reviewer and as such I receive complimentary press tickets in exchange for my honest reviews. My reviews and star ratings are always my honest opinions.


📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

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Lisa in the theatre, theater, reviews, blog, Scotland, Scottish

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