All or Nothing
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Wednesday 29th March
The whole Mods and Rockers culture of the late 60s passed me by because I grew up in a different country. Yes, I heard the stories of the gang fights – the sensational stuff that made headlines around the world.
For me ‘All or Nothing, The Musical’ was part show and part music history lesson. It did not disappoint on either level. The line-up of scooters outside the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford immediately put this show in context as we made our way to the theatre.
This is the story of ‘The Small Faces’, or to be more precise the story of Steve Marriott. In truth, it is not a happy story but a sad tale of musicians who just want to play being manipulated by managers and labels.
The tale of this unfortunate but talented quartet is punctuated by their songs both the pop and the R&B that was their first love. The story is narrated by the old Steve Marriott (Chris Simmons), who wanders about the stage like the ghost of Small Faces past. He physically deteriorates as the show progresses from the cocky young man to the older, broken shadow of his former self.
Any show of this kind can fly or fail on the music, and the band members nailed it – the young Steve’s voice (Sam Pope) having just the right power to height ration that was Marriott’s trademark.
Russell Floyd as Don Arden, the manipulative manager had just about the right balance of cuddly father figure to evil manipulator. And he delivered probably my favourite line of the night: “You don’t dig it? OK, let me put it in cockney for you… F***ing dig it!”
The supporting cast too gave this show their all as they morphed amongst a myriad of characters such as Dusty Springfield, Tony Blackburn, Sonny & Cher and the wonderfully camp BBC producer. How the girls danced on those boxes without turning an ankle in those heels is anyone’s guess.
The spot-on choreography, costumes and set placed the show firmly in the late sixties. Even if this wasn’t your era you will enjoy this show for the music as well as the tale of the manipulated musicians. Yes, they may have been cocky little upstarts from the East End, but they were talented little upstarts who deserved better. The full house reacted as one with a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
And where better to start the 2017 tour than in Essex synonymous with the mods and rockers and in a such a welcoming theatre – The Civic. ‘All or Nothing’ is in Chelmsford until 1st April and then tours the country with shows in our region again at:
- The Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn June 9th & 10th
- The Key Theatre, Peterborough July 3rd to 5th
- The Marina Lowestoft July 6th to 8th
- The Corn Exchange, Cambridge July 20th to 22nd