Sunny Afternoon musical dazzles critics
Sunny Afternoon, a new musical about the early career of pop band The Kinks, has impressed critics amid predictions of a West End transfer.
"You really got me!" read the headline of the Daily Mail's five star review by Quentin Letts. "After an indifferent year for new musical shows in London, here is a belter," he said.
The show, written by Joe Penhall, features many Kinks classics and is named after their 1966 hit single.
It is running at the Hampstead Theatre.
"This show is far better than a mere tribute evening, though it includes lots of Kinks hits. It gives you a strong sense of period - some terrific short hemlines on the girls - yet also well-drawn characters that evolve with the band," Letts continued.
The Telegraph's Charles Spencer also awarded five stars at Thursday's opening, noting the show had "the whole audience up on its feet and in state of blissful euphoria by the end".
He said director Edward Hall "marvellously nails the humour and the pathos of the piece" and praised Miriam Buether's set design featuring scores of speaker cabinets.
"It is an irresistibly enjoyable and touching night, and anyone who loves pop music at its greatest would be mad to miss it," Spencer concluded.
"The songs joyously reach out to the audience, even as they are shown to be rooted in a wider, difficult and daft world of class, family, professional struggle and private agony," said Nick Hasted in his four-star review for The Arts Desk. "In The Kinks' 50th Anniversary year, their spirit could hardly be better revived."
Also awarding four stars, the Evening Standard's Henry Hitchings praised the lead performances.
"John Dagleish is immense as [Ray] Davies, capturing his quirkiness and charisma. His guitarist brother Dave is given an exciting wildness by George Maguire.
"And if at the end we're pretty much coerced into a dancing ovation, some of the show's best moments are in fact its more melancholy and reflective ones. Sunny Afternoon illustrates the brilliance of The Kinks and the incisive songwriting of Davies, and it's surely destined for the West End."
The Stage's Mark Shenton likened Sunny Afternoon to a British version of Jersey Boys, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
"Though Joe Penhall's script may not be as sharp or well-defined as that of Jersey Boys, it is generously full of heart and especially the soul that propelled The Kinks' music.
"The result is dramatically a bit rough, ready and ragged but it lends the evening a useful whiff of improvisation and spontaneity."
Sunny Afternoon is at Hampstead Theatre until 24 May.