It is still hard to comprehend how the film of Roddy Doyle’s novel The Commitments is more than 25 years old.
That raucous tale of the coming together of a Dublin band belting out soul classics galore has, of course, been brought to life on stage, too.
This production, direct from the West End, has great value from the way the sets perfectly depict bleak Irish council estates and community clubs to many of the performances, not least Andrew Linnie, who brilliantly captures the wit and repartee of working-class soul fanatic Jimmy Rabbitte, the band’s manager faced with so many thankless tasks.
Kevin Kennedy, of Coronation Street Curly Watts fame, has some great one-liners as Jimmy’s Da but even he is out-shone by a wonderfully manic Mickah, the band’s slightly aggro shaven-headed drummer played by Sam Fordham
He could quite easily have been the original inspiration for Trainspotting’s Begbie.
Amy Penston is a force all on her own as backing singer Natalie, one of The Commitmentettes, but sister Leah Penston (Imelda) and Christina Tedders (Bernie) each get their own chances to shine at various points, too.
Alex McMorran exudes effortless cool as Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan although he does seem a little young to be cast as the old trumpet player with the lothario touch.
Brian Gilligan’s vocals are spot on as the band’s obnoxious lead singer Deco and he has all that character’s filthy habits and mannerisms.
Those who love the film may struggle to get past the fact he doesn’t look anything like its unmistakable lead Andrew Strong but then again, who does?
All in all, laced with humour and with hits from What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted and Reach Out I’ll Be There to In the Midnight Hour, Try A Little Tenderness and, let’s not forget, Mustang Sally, this is a real blast.
It plays at Grand Opera House, York until Saturday February 18 daily at 7.30pm plus a Saturday matinee performance 2.30pm.