Five years after a phenomenally successful, record-breaking run in London’s West End and subsequent sell-out tour, a brand-new version of The Commitments is back for a limited-time tour.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

Based on the BAFTA award-winning film, The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte (played superbly by James Killen), a young working-class music fan who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into the next big Irish hit band. He takes us through their practises to live performances to ultimately how a ripple of feuds splits them up.

Right from entering the theatre, the pre-show music sets the tone of recognisable classic songs that are sung in the show, including twenty soul classics such as “A Little Tenderness,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and “Reach Out.” Straight from an electrifying opening number of “Proud Mary,” the stage radiates a great night is ahead. A stand-out from this production is that all the actors in the band are actually playing the instruments live, which is high praise to the sound department with immaculate levels and great quality throughout. For a show based on music, everyone is of a high level – which should be expected – and equally, the whole cast has noticeable talent in acting. Disappointingly, due to how many songs are squeezed into 60-minute acts, there isn’t much time to explore character development and connections.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

The movie version is not something I could see translating to the stage. However, I personally preferred the story in stage form rather than the film as it still had all of the needed story elements while using particular lines which the audience reacted positively to. I appreciate them taking away some the unnecessary characters and adapting locations to suit the stage. There are many comedic elements added for flavour, as well as kept classic elements from the film, such as the door auditions (no spoilers but a very well done!). Regardless, whether you have seen the original or not, this production has something for everyone.

The show feels well-rehearsed with perfect timing in all elements from choreographed transitions to the comfortability of eating chips whilst singing flawlessly (I know right!?) which is one of the many talents shown by Ian Mcintosh in the lead role of Deco. There is no denying he is perfect for the role, bringing the egocentric, vocal genius to this character. Though he has a smaller part, Ronnie Yorke as the overly aggressive security guard is comedic in his overindulgence of intimidation, not letting his ‘guard’ down on any part of his deliverance.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

The set designed by Tim Blazdell is well thought-out. Originally appearing to be a basic run-down council estate, it logically transforms and adapts to various settings seamlessly, taking the audience to many locations. With superb support from the lighting design, we shift to multiple venues as the group progresses their quality of professionalism in presentation.

Although the second half has to gain the momentum back after an ambitiously packed first half, there was not a point in which I felt disconnected. I would also say that this is a concert with a story line more so than a musical lacking a storyline with an abundance of highs and lows, but theres no denying I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

This show is committed to giving you a feel-good night you will remember. You’ll be up on your feet dancing along by the end of the show and leaving singing the songs and praises of the undoubtable talent. Performing at The Wimbledon Theatre until the 14th of January, and six months of its tour remaining, this is one you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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