What a way to spend Valentine’s Day, well the evening anyway. Last night it was the first night for Sunny Afternoon at Venue Cymru, a show that I’d been looking forward to seeing for a while.
Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Sunny Afternoon is an irresistible musical with slick theatricality and ingenious storytelling at its heart. It tells the captivating tale of how one of Britain’s greatest bands, The Kinks, rose to stardom.
We took to our seats, which were right next to a catwalk that was protruding from the stage, and was in awe of the stage. The walls of the stage were covered in speakers and a rectangular window was slotted in the back wall which looked very much like a sound booth. The stage was also set up with instruments ready for the artists to use throughout the evening’s entertainment.
So it was time to step back into the 1960s and take a journey with The Kinks and the story of their rise to stardom from how they found their distinctive sound, the moment of their debut on Top of the Pops, their infamous US tour and not forgetting their triumphant comeback.
A Delightful Sunny Afternoon in Llandudno
The show really has that 60s feel to it, well let’s face it with the superb music of The Kinks performed live on stage it was bound to be an experience that thankfully I haven’t missed, with the show featuring the iconic hits You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, All Day and All of the Night, Lola, Sunny Afternoon and many more, the show is one that deserves a standing ovation for its performances from all the cast.
But the show isn’t all serious and just music, there are some wonderful moments spread throughout Sunny Afternoon, with so many funny moments of laughter which mainly come from Ray’s brother Dave (played by Mark Newman), heck all the cast put in amazing performances, the show is a collection of emotions from happy to sad.
The set for Sunny Afternoon looks amazing, as I mentioned earlier the walls are lined with speakers and there is also an added feature to the stage, which I haven’t seen used before, a catwalk, yes a catwalk, which is used to really good effect throughout the show, with cast members using it to move the show into the first few rows of the theatre.
The catwalk was also used to great effect during a scene where Ray (played by Ryan O’Donnell) is phoning his wife Rasa (played by Lisa Wright) back in the UK, with them exchanging places from stage to tip of the catwalk to give the feeling of that distance between them, very nicely done and a rather emotional scene as well.
Sunny Afternoon is certainly a play you don’t want to miss, the set design looks great, the lighting is all nicely done to give ambience and feeling for key scenes throughout the show, the cast performances are fantastic, you’ll laugh and sing (I did many times) and with music and lyrics by Ray Davies, Sunny Afternoon is a show I really can’t fault and the audience seemed to agree with a standing ovation and shouts of more after an explosive end to the show where you feel like you are actually at the comeback gig that The Kinks performed at.
Sunny Afternoon is showing at Venue Cymru, Llandudno until Saturday, February 18 at 7.30pm, details and tickets for the show available online or from the Box Office on 01492 872000.