The Kinks musical coming to Wolverhampton
The hit West End musical Sunny Afternoon will visit Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre next week for a week-long run.
The multi-award-winning show tells the captivating tale of one of Britain's greatest bands, The Kinks, and their incredible rise to stardom.
With a combination of unforgettable guitar riffs, and the nostalgic and wistful lyrics of hits such as You Really Got Me, Sunny Afternoon and Lola, The Kinks spawned a definitive sound that rocked a nation and has influenced generations to come.
Now the acclaimed show, which charts the highs and lows of The Kinks' career, heads to Wolverhampton as part of a regional tour.
It features the iconic hits Waterloo Sunset, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Dead End Street and Sunny Afternoon.
"There are a lot of people who were around to see them at the time who have now got to an age where they want to relive that," says Mark Newnham, who plays the young guitarist Dave Davies.
"From our point of view, we grew up listening to this music, having our dads or uncles or whoever saying, 'you've got to check out this band, they're brilliant!'
"Learning the guitar became an obvious step for me, and I joined a band while I was at school, so when this came up it was an ideal melting pot for me."
Joining Newnham on tour is Andrew Gallo who plays drummer Mick Avory.
Andrew says: "Sunny Afternoon is a great show for seeing actor-musicianship.
"As the members of the band we play all our instruments, but there are also other people on stage playing trombones and guitars and things, and it's amazing to watch."
Ryan O'Donnell, plays the legendary Ray Davies, the mastermind of the band, and one of the best ever British songwriters of all time.
Previously a member of Jethro Tull and with a stint in Quadrophenia on stage, Ryan has been a life-long fan of The Kinks, so was honoured to meet the real Ray Davies whilst in rehearsals for the show.
"He's very . . . not exactly quiet," says Ryan, "but he keeps his thoughts to himself, and whatever he does say is never what you expect. I don't think I've ever asked him for any advice, but he sometimes offers it here and there."
"I remember the first time he came to watch me do it," he added. "I didn't know he was in until about halfway through when I saw him and I just thought, 'Oh my God, this changes everything!' I always think it must be difficult for him to allow some of the details of the story to be put on stage while he's still around to watch it, but what I'm trying to present in my performance isn't necessarily a direct version of Ray.
Ryan adds: "From what I've seen of him, he thinks about things very intensely but doesn't always vocalise those thoughts. Obviously we need to get the story out of him, so in our version he's a bit more brash and loud with more of a physicality, but sometimes when he comes to watch the show, I feel like I should tone it down a bit!"
Ryan says he is still bowled over by the impact these young men had on the music world.
"I was really shocked by how much these guys took the reins when some of them were still in their teens to begin with," he says. "They went over and took America by storm, and when they kept getting used by their management.
"Ray stood up to them and took the credit back and refused to let anything stop him. When you look back at it, I don't think I could have done now what Ray did when he was 20 years old. Not many people could have done it."
Andrew says he loves the way that Sunny Afternoon was so much more than your average jukebox musical. A clear narrative runs throughout making the show a must for fans of drama as well as the mush loved soundtrack of the Kinks musical career.
"All of the songs work and fit in the right place in the story," he says. "One of my favourite songs in the show is Money Go Round, which is the tale of where all the money disappears to, and it's quite specific. It's really overt in naming different people, so when we do it on stage, it feels like it was written for this."
And Mark agrees that Sunny Afternoon is still an amazing show even without the songs.
"If there are theatre buffs out there who like a good script and witty gags, then what Joe Penhall has written is bang on the money," he says.
By Andy Richardson
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