The Commitments

“This show really is about the music, and it was a real treat to see the performers also playing their instruments on stage”.

Whether you are a fan of the original 1991 film, written by Roddy Doyle, or just a lover of sweet soul music, The Commitments is a sure fire hit with its infectious string of hits, incredible vocal performances and good old-fashioned Irish craic.  The original stage show of The Commitments was born in 2013 and stayed in the West End for over 2 years, which is where I saw the show for the first time.  Fast forward to 2023 and the show still has all the Irish charm it did back then.

The show opens on a drunken Christmas party at the local sweet factory and ‘Proud Mary’ is the choice for the guests to sing.  Deco (Ben Morris) takes the microphone and is instantly a hit with Jimmy (James Killeen) as the “voice” for his new creation.  Jimmy wants nothing more than to bring this new “sexy” music to the people of Dublin and with Deco on board he holds auditions to complete the band.   There ensues a veritable mix of the weird and wonderful wanting to join the band, however Jimmy has a clear vision and none of the auditionees quite hit the mark.

Morris has the perfect voice for the role of Deco with a standout performance of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ at the end of the show where you could hear a pin drop during the opening few lines.  The tone of voice is quite beautiful, and he can deliver on all levels, whether it be high energy numbers such as ‘Mustang Sally’ or ‘Mr Pitiful’ or numbers with a slower pace such as ‘It’s a Thin Line Between Love and Hate’. I could have listened to him sing all night!

The band is made up of a mismatch of musicians, who are not quite up to scratch to start with, but after much practice their craft is honed, and they are ready to perform.  There is one member of the band who has quite the incredible CV, however you’re never really too sure whether he’s being truthful with his claims of playing with The Beatles, Martha Reeves and Wilson Pickett. Joey The Lips is played by Stuart Reid, a band member with a wandering eye and his sights firmly set on romancing each of the beautiful backing singers.  Reid plays the role with a very laid back, almost unfazed demeanour and is the centre of some memorable moments within the politics of the band.

The sensational backing vocals come courtesy of Imelda (Ciara Mackey), Natalie (Eve Kitchingman) and Bernie (Sarah Gardiner).   Each voice on its own is superb, but when combined, the harmonies are tight and produce a beautiful sound throughout. Mackey especially shone during ‘Save Me’ with a stunning vocal performance.  This show really is about the music, and it was a real treat to see the performers also playing their instruments on stage which gave the sound an authentic feel, rather than having a backing track or off-stage band. 

Once the band are out in the clubs performing, they require security.  This comes in the wonderful form of ‘Mickah’ played incredibly well by Ronnie Yorke.  He is your archetypal ‘skinhead’ who wanted to fight everyone but had a heart of gold and it was hard not to love his character by the end of the show. 

There were a few lighting issues on the night, with many cues being missed and spotlights not quite hitting the mark, however it did not detract too much from the overall experience.

The Commitments is a fun musical, with an outstanding soundtrack and you would definitely be an eejit to miss this one!

This show was reviewed on the 24th April 2023 and runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 29th April 2023.  Tickets are available here: The Commitments – Birmingham Hippodrome

Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz


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