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Back to the Future: The Musical

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Roger Bart and Casey Likes (Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)


Back to the Future: The Musical


By Julia Polinsky



There are those who loved Back to the Future, the original movie, back in the day, as if it were gospel, truth, great art. It was likable, charming, in large part because of the two leads, and sold a zillion or so seats and spawned the inevitable sequels.


From what I remember, the storyline for the Broadway version is basically the same as the film, so there are no surprises and much satisfaction. The audience loved it and went nuts. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to bring family to the theater and just let go and have a good time it s a delight to hear a live audience laugh that hard in the theater.


In case you have never encountered the story, here s the scoop: It s 1985. Slightly geeky teenage Marty McFly s friend, mad scientist Doc Brown, has invented a time machine. McFly accidentally goes back to 1955 in it. Because, in fine time-travel-story fashion, his trip to the past is altering the future, the 1955 Doc warns him of the consequences. During his few days in the past, McFly meets his teenage parents, a spectacularly geeky, ultra-loser George (Hugh Coles) and sweetly lustful Lorraine (Liana Hunt) who falls in love with Marty. Complicated and unlikely things happen, and all ends well; good triumphs, the bully Biff (Nathaniel Hackmann) gets his just deserts, Marty invents rock and roll, and changes the future for the better.


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Roger Bart and Ensemble (Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)


Casey Likes, who plays Marty, is superb; he was somewhat misused in Almost Famous last fall, and it's good to see him in a vehicle that lets him shine. Roger Bart's Doc is just splendid, the most likable mad scientist in recent memory. The onstage chemistry between the two is a delight to watch. Doc and Marty are the real center of the story, so it s deeply satisfying to see their interactions at some moments, they're having so much fun, they about lose it.


The rest of the cast are also excellent, with a few standouts: Hugh Coles, as George McFly, gives a performance so engaging, so funny, and so full of pathos, it wrings your heart while making you laugh. Bullying Biff is played in broad strokes by Nathaniel Hackmann; Liana Hunt s Lorraine is lovely.


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Nathaniel Hackmann, Casey Likes, Hugh Coles, and Cast Members (Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)



The real star, though, is the look of Back to the Future: The Musical. The show is so SHOWY; it has all the stage magic you can wish for and then some. Designer Tim Hatley has clearly been given all the resources he could want and let off the leash, with resulting superb sets, killer costumes, and, well, the Delorean. It s not often a Broadway show gives a playbill credit for Illusion Designer, but in this case, it s well merited Chris Fisher s illusions and Finn Ross s video design contribute mightily to the show s success.


Director John Rando, given a smashing book by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, the original co-writers of the film, keeps everything moving along superbly, aided by Chris Bailey s choreography. Music and lyrics by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard are fine, but not more than that; you ll walk out humming the sets, not the songs. It doesn t matter; they re inoffensive and a few are lovely For The Dreamers, sung by a pensive Doc in the second act; Pretty Baby sung by the young Lorraine as she dreams of Marty; Gotta Start Somewhere, a splendid anthem from the first act, a dynamite performance from the inspired Goldie (Jelani Remy) Wait, what? Who s Goldie? Go see the show and find out!

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Jelani Remy and the Ensemble (Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)


Indeed, go see the show and find out how much fun it can be to watch what happens when entertainers at the top of their game give it their all -- 1.2 gigawatts of fun, at 88 mph!


Back to the Future: The Musical

At the Winter Garden Theatre

1634 Broadway, New York

Tickets: $58-318