Theatre review - Tony! The Tony Blair Rock Opera,

THE critics’ reviews have been mixed but the public’s response to Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s raucous rock opera about Tony Blair appears to be a resounding thumbs up. Friends attending a preview thought it was fab. One punter returned for a second outing with his son. On the night I went, the audience gave an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Peter Rowe’s production may be a little ragged around the edges, the singing clearly not operatic standard and the music tends to reference hit shows rather than offering any original melodies, but Tony! is a lot of fun.

Hill could have done away with the superfluous opening scenes depicting Blair’s birth and childhood. It’s his rise and fall we’re interested in. Despite looking nothing like him, Charlie Baker captures Blair’s bounciness and gullibility.

The ensemble cast, dressed in matching suits with red ties, take on a host of characters from Blair’s cabinet, his wife Cherie (Holly Blair) and adviser Peter Mandelson (Howard Samuels). Madison Swan gives an amusing turn as Princess Diana and Gary Trainor impresses as Blair’s nemesis Gordon Brown.

In the second half they morph into the individuals who were to contribute to Blair’s dramatic fall from grace – George Bush, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The closing number, The Whole World is Run by Arseholes, almost raised the roof, but to equate Blair with tyrants such as Hitler and Putin felt a tad excessive.

Until July 9