Review: All or Nothing – A Mod Musical Live At The Ambassadors Theatre, You Tube Broadcast

  • All or Nothing – A Mod Musical explores The Story of 1960s band, The Small Faces

  • The Musical by Carol Harrison was recorded during its London West End run at The Ambassadors Theatre

  • The musical is streaming live on YouTube to raise money for the NHS until April 26

In recent years there have been many musical biographies dancing the boards of theatres across the UK. Each musical has its own unique story to tell and undoubtedly that certainly applies to All or Nothing-The Mod Musical, currently streaming on YouTube to raise money for the NHS during the COVID19 pandemic.

All Or Nothing Recalls The Story of The Small Faces

Directed by BAFTA winner Tony McHale, written by Carol Harrison and recorded live at London’s Ambassador Theatre during its West-End run, All or Nothing-The Mod Musical tells the rise and fall of 60s’s mod rockers, The Small Faces.

The story starts ultimately where the band break up in 1968 with Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane in a heated argument on stage with lead singer, Steve Marriott amid a performance of Tin Soldier. The argument freezes as an older Steve Marriott (played by Chris Simmons) steps on to the stage to take on the narrative of the bands story.

Rewinding to the early 1960s, the audience get a potted history of young Steve (Steve Marriott) expulsion from school before his mother, Kay (played with affection and charisma by Carol Harrison) puts him up for a role in the West-End musical, Oliver! However, it is a trip to the Abbey Road recording studio to record the Oliver! Soundtrack that sets Steve on his path to wanting to become a musician and ultimately forming The Small Faces.

All or Nothing Features Energy of Small Faces on Stage

The Small Faces road to success is not a pretty one. The sacking of original keyboard player Jimmy Winston (Rikki Lawton) over in-band jealousy and the bands ultimate mismanagement by Don Arden (Russell Floyd) are only some lowlights of The Small Faces Story. However, to tell a story honestly you must take the rough with the feelgood factor and thars where All or Nothing clearly lives up to its title.

Carol Harrison has researched and loved her subject with a passion. Not only do the audience get all The Small Faces hits such as Sha La Lal La Le, Hey Girl and Watch Gonna Do About It? performed with close replication, mannerisms and energy by Samuel Pope (Steve), Stefan Edwards (Kenney), Stanton Wright (Ronnie) and Alexander Gold (Ian) but there is all a sense of fun and frustration behind the scenes as the story unfolds.

A Definitive Musical Presentation of The Small Faces

With a set design laden with music memorabilia that opens a selection of doors and windows when needed, the set for All or Nothing carries the audience magically from scene to scene. From the Marriott’s living room via gig venues, TV and recording studios (complete with dancers) to the London West-End stage, each moment comes to life thanks to lighting and strongly choreography from cast and creatives. TV appearances on programmes such as Juke Box Jury and Top of The Pops are recalled with humour as are the band not been well-received at a Northern working men’s club and how a cleaning lady inspires the hit, Lazy Sunday.

The audience are also reminded of the tragedy of narrator Steve Marriott’s death towards the end of the musical. This is handled with a sensitive and emotional duologue between Chris Simmons’ older Steve and Carol Harrison as his mother Kay, who reminds him of the importance of the music he created. It is this moment which ends the show on a high, with a curtain call of those rousing rhythm and blues rockers.

I was gutted to miss All or Nothing on its original tour, but I loved the opportunity to see it online where it remains available until 7pm on April 26. A definitive musical presentation of one of the 1960s best-loved bands, here’s to the show taking a Vespa ride to UK theatres once again in the near future!

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