LAST NIGHT'S REVIEW: 20th Century Boy, the Mayflower Theatre

Daily Echo: A scene from 20th Century Boy A scene from 20th Century Boy

‘WILL anybody ever care?’ That was the question being posed in one of the final songs of last night’s 20th Century Boy musical at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.

As cast members belted out the line from Dandy in the Underworld, the overwhelming answer was a breathtaking ‘yes’.

After all this time – almost 37 years since T Rex singer and glam rock icon Marc Bolan was killed in a car crash in London – people still care.

Thousands still care, and last night – the first of five nights at the theatre – showcased all the reasons why.

Placing Rolan Bolan (Luke Bailey) at the centre of the narrative, the son Marc (Warren Sollars) never met takes the audience on a journey through his father’s career after travelling to London to meet his grandparents for the first time and one of Marc’s former roadies.

We meet the three leading women in Marc’s life – mum Phyllis Feld (former Brookside star Jackie Corkhill), first wife June Child and the mother of his son, Gloria Jones, in an often emotional journey.

We see Marc as an ultra-ambitious London Boy, watch him take his first steps as a folk-inspired singer, before producer Tony Visconti introduces him to the electric guitar.

No 1 hits, Top of the Pops, fame. They all follow in a blizzard of headlines and screams.

The seedy underbelly of fame catches up with Marc on tour in America, and only the birth of Rolan forces him to re-evaluate his life.

Underpinning the whole story, of course, are footstomping classics such as Metal Guru, Jeepster, Get It On, Hot Love and Ride a White Swan.

For me, the two highlights of the show are two ballads.

A haunting, beautiful even, Cosmic Dancer – some readers might remember the song from Billy Elliott in the late 90s, the film that introduced me to Bolan’s music – sees Rolan and his father brought together in a remarkable duet.

Then, as Marc’s fame starts to go to his head, the three women in his life and Rolan perform an epically poignant Whatever Happened To The Teenage Dream – the four of them stood at the front of the stage, barely bathed in light, is a hair-tingling moment.

There was more to Marc Bolan than the chart-topping rockers, and those two songs perfectly illustrated it.

His life ended in September 1977, when a car driven by Gloria careered into a tree just a few weeks after Elvis Presley had passed away.

Growing up, Marc said he wanted one day to be ‘bigger than Elvis.’ That wasn’t possible, but 20th Century Boy last night brought roaring back to life a character that remains one of the most endearing of the last 40 years of rock and pop.

A few years ago, Mama Mia! brought Abba’s phenomenal back catalogue to the attention of a new, younger audience. A smash hit film, it was later made into a successful West End musical.

It is unrealistic to expect 20th Century Boy to have the same worldwide impact.

But in terms of introducing some fantastic music to a fresh generation, the musical does justice to a story well worth telling.

Get. It. On.

Go and watch this.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:58pm Wed 7 May 14

birdyland says...

What do you mean by the line "the son Marc never met"??? Of course he met him .... Marc dies when Rolan was about two years old. Get your facts straight!!
What do you mean by the line "the son Marc never met"??? Of course he met him .... Marc dies when Rolan was about two years old. Get your facts straight!! birdyland
  • Score: 10

12:51am Thu 8 May 14

TheatreGeek says...

Fact checking is definitely not one of the article writer's strong point. Mamma Mia was a smash hit stage show a long time before it was made into a film. Also, it's spelt with two Ms, not one.

Clearly, the Echo have given up fact checking and accuracy in favour of sycophantic drivel. It's funny how every show they see is amazing - well, I suppose I'd think that to if I were being fed free tickets every week.
Fact checking is definitely not one of the article writer's strong point. Mamma Mia was a smash hit stage show a long time before it was made into a film. Also, it's spelt with two Ms, not one. Clearly, the Echo have given up fact checking and accuracy in favour of sycophantic drivel. It's funny how every show they see is amazing - well, I suppose I'd think that to if I were being fed free tickets every week. TheatreGeek
  • Score: 1

12:52am Thu 8 May 14

TheatreGeek says...

Also, on another note, why is the sports editor being sent to cover a theatre show? Was the theatre critic washing their hair that night?
Also, on another note, why is the sports editor being sent to cover a theatre show? Was the theatre critic washing their hair that night? TheatreGeek
  • Score: 1

4:55pm Mon 12 May 14

lllmmm says...

Also, the accompanying video is nothing to do with the current tour. It is from the original production of 20th Century Boy at Ipswich in 2011 with the utterly brilliant George Maguire creating the lead role then
Also, the accompanying video is nothing to do with the current tour. It is from the original production of 20th Century Boy at Ipswich in 2011 with the utterly brilliant George Maguire creating the lead role then lllmmm
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree