War of the Worlds – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
Posted by: The Reviews Hub
Music/Lyrics: Jeff Wayne
Book: HG Wells
Director: Steve Nolan
First published in 1897, HG Wells’s visionary novel is still as ground-breaking today as it was when it first shocked Victorian England and now over 30 years since first composed from the moment the music starts you are transported into a terrifying story of Martians landing on the Earth and taking over. With an orchestra on one side, a rock band on the other in the middle you have Jeff Wayne, bouncing around like tigger, clearly enjoying himself conducting the two.
For the music alone, this would be a 5 star performance but it’s the singing that lets it down, especially from the 3 main stalwarts of musical theatre, Marti Pellow singing the thoughts of the Journalist and Jason Donovan and Kerry Ellis who play parson Nathanial and his wife Beth. All three of them fight to be heard over the amazing orchestration and all three lose. Their parts are brief and could easily be pre-recorded to ensure a higher quality performance. There is however, a shining beacon of hope with Brave New World outstandingly sung by Ricky Wilson in his performance as the Artilleryman and The Voice of Humanity. Will Stapleton also gives an amazing performance with his rendition of Thunderchild.
The staging is incredible; Liam Neeson takes over the iconic rôle of the Journalist, portrayed for many years by the late Richard Burton. Now more interactive with a 3d hologram that appears to pass over a drink to the Artilleryman and punch the Parson. A huge alien descends from the ceiling and menacingly shoots fire at the poor front rows, the lighting, pyrotechnics and incredible music drag you into the atmosphere and your attention never wavers from the show.
You are sure to have the music in your brain as you leave the Arena and find yourself humming the magnificent score. But it’s the synthesised note that portrays the Martian that terrifies and even knowing it’s a show and you are safe, it cannot fail to send shivers down your spine.