Review: Tony!, New Theatre, Cardiff

Thomas Howells reviews Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s new rock opera Tony!, at Cardiff’s New Theatre.

Get ready to rock out at the New Theatre, because Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) is taking the stage by storm! This fresh and exciting musical, brought to life by comedian Harry Hill and composer Steve Brown, is a hilarious take on what it takes to be a disastrous Prime Minister. 

Tony! tells the story humorously of a popular Prime Minister who managed to destroy his image with an unpopular foreign war. Yes, it’s a poor representation of him, no, it has no point and is incredibly immature at times, but it is very incredible.

Based on what I could hear from the people around me, it seemed all the political nerds took an evening out to see Tony! Of course, the audience laughed with pure enjoyment as they indulged in this great satire, but it’s in no way reserved for just those who love politics. The humour is down to incredible pacing, timing and direction brought on from an amazing creative team with the likes of Peter Rower directing and Francesca Jaynes choreographing.

With exuberant direction by Peter Rowe and a set designed by Libby Watson in classic New Labour colours, the stage is set for an unforgettable experience. The chess board flooring, door frames and the incorporation of the band make for a minimalistic, but symbolic set.

The costumes are impressive. Libby Watson has put together some incredible designs – basing a neutral outfit for all the politicians on Tony Blair’s typical depiction, while also adapting it and branching out styles for the likes of Princess Diana and even Saddam Hussein, who performed one of my favourite Disney princess-style musical numbers ever. It would be remiss to not mention Vanessa White’s wigs which helped so much with the cast members while playing countless roles.

Jack Whittle’s performance as Blair is nothing short of amazing, with his cheesy grin and hilarious portrayal of a wannabe rock star who can’t even get Mick Jagger’s name right. Tori Burgess’ as his wife, Cherie is equally entertaining, a risqué floozy who has Tone running scared. 

Of course, the entire cast deserves immense credit for their hard work! A personal favourite of mine is Martin Johnston who pulled off a hilarious gag about John Smith’s time leading the Labour party. The cast is perfectly chosen, with Phil Sealey’s humorous depiction of Gordon Brown, Howard Samuels as a very camp Peter Mandelson, Rosie Strobel’s indescribable portrayal of Osama Bin Laden (in a good way), and Emma Jay Thomas as an entertainingly demure Princess Diana. All performed with immense passion and talent.

A premier production about a premiership, Tony! is both a hilarious and engaging musical and the perfect way to spend an evening!

Tony! runs at Cardiff’s New Theatre until Saturday June 17. For ticket details visit the New Theatre’s website.

Published by Thomas Howells

The doctor said I should be in hospital for all the blood I was losing, but instead I went to drama practice

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