THERE’S just one trick to producing a jukebox musical as brisk and enjoyable as this touring production of the Rod Stewart tribute show Tonight’s The Night, and it lies in finding a story that offers a strong, uncomplicated, and sympathetic narrative thread on which to hang as many as possible of the much-loved songs audiences have come to hear.
Without hitting any unusual heights, Tonight’s The Night is a show that meets that challenge in style; and throws in a touch of real good-heartedness, alongside its 25 songs.
The script, by Ben Elton, is a folksy Faust story about Stu, a geeky but ardent Rod Stewart fan from back-street Chicago, who sells his soul to a glamorous lady She-Devil in return for the talent, charisma and sex appeal of Rod himself.
With his newfound confidence, Stu starts a relationship with lovely Mary but soon the attractions of rock-star life on the road begin to threaten their love, providing scope to roll out anthem after anthem from the Rod Stewart playlist.
Strangely enough, it’s the gorgeous and sassy Tiffany Graves, playing both the She-Devil and ageing rock chick Baby Jane, who seems closest to embodying the on-stage spirit of Rod, particularly when she belts out This Old Heart Of Mine.
Ben Heathcote is thoroughly charming as Stu, though, and with the 19-strong ensemble and six-piece band giving it all they’ve got through two music-packed hours, the final curtain-call has the whole audience on their feet, swaying from side to side and singing Sailing, in the very spirit of Rod himself.
Rating: * * *