This summer, Ben Joyce joined the cast of Back To The Future The Musical, playing Marty McFly, as the show went into its second year at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End.
The critically acclaimed Olivier, WhatsOnStage and Broadway World Award-winning Best New Musical had its opening night in London in September 2021, and will open on Broadway in 2023 with further plans to rollout internationally.
It’s almost a year to the day since Ben and I last sat down to chat, back then he had just made his West End debut playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, “It was always a dream role of mine and I loved it,” says Ben, “not only playing the role and being a part of that show, but also the family that we’d created there with everyone, that was a strong bond that I was really sad to be to be leaving.”
“It was a big thing for me to leave, but it was worth it for the challenge and the excitement of something new.”
Moving from the Trafalgar Theatre to the Adelphi, Ben has taken up the lead role of Marty McFly in the musical version of a film that many people have a lot of affection for, “the film came out long before I was born,” laughs Ben, “but it’s one of those iconic films, and I remember my Dad putting it on and saying, ‘oh, you need to watch this, it’s a cracker’”.
“So I’d grown up watching the franchise, and I’d just watched them all again before going for the part. When I saw the show for the first time I could recognise how amazingly they’d adapted it for the stage and honoured the film in every single way.”
Ben’s had to adapt the East Coast Jersey accent he’d perfected for Jersey Boys to a West Coast one to fit Marty’s character, “I love playing Marty, he’s just the typical 80’s cool California guy and he has his skateboard and he plays guitar. He has lots of dreams of what he wants to do with his life, and he wants to be a huge rock star. Yeah, he’s a guy with big dreams and a big heart as well.”
Anyone who has seen the film will automatically associate the role of Marty with Michael J Fox, and that’s something Ben is acutely aware of, “for me it was critical that I kind of have all those nods to Michael J Fox’s Marty, and there are certain lines from the film that are so iconic, that I wanted to deliver them in a similar way that he did, because that’s what people are expecting.”
“But I also wanted to make it my own, and I can do that through the music and the songs. That’s my version of Marty. So, it’s been really lovely to try and find both those nods that I wanted to give to the film version of Marty and my version of Marty as well.”
It’s not just Michael J Fox people remember from the film explains Ben, “it’s one of the big things that excited me about the role, is that it means so much to people, and for a lot of people that come see the show it’s the nostalgia, and you feel immersed, like you’re in the film.”
And Ben thinks the staging is just one of the clever ways the show achieves that, “you’ll recognise all these familiar parts of Hill Valley, like the clock tower or Lou’s Diner, but there are lots of Easter Eggs too that fans of the film can look out for; in the fridge we’ve got the cake that they give to Uncle Joey in the film, we don’t actually use it in the show, but it’s there for people who can spot it.”
As much as the show honours the film, this is a musical version and Ben is a big fan of the score, “I think it’s really clever how they kept the sound from the film, so you’ve got Alan Silvestri’s iconic score that plays throughout the show and then Glenn Ballard, his score, the musical side of it with the new songs, intertwined, and I think they’ve worked so cleverly together.”
To be able to play Marty, Ben has had to learn some new skills, “I thought I was able to skateboard already,” laughs Ben, “turns out I couldn’t, little did I know that it’s a lot harder than it looks. So, not only did I have to learn how to do it properly, I had to learn how to do it properly and then look confident doing it, like I’ve been doing it for as long as Marty would have been.”
Ben joined with a few other new cast members, including Oliver Nicholas as George McFly, but he’s been grateful for the help he’s been given from the existing cast, “Will Haswell is the alternate and with the show being very technical, he was really great at helping me to make sure I was always hitting my mark for the effects to work.”
“Then obviously working with the powerhouse that is Roger Bart. I feel like he’s just the greatest mentor. He’s got so much knowledge and so much insight, and it’s been like that since day one working with him, it’s just been completely inspiring. Every single night, when he sings This One’s For The Dreamers, I think, wow, what an honour.”
Also joining the cast at the same time as Ben was Amber Davies as Lorraine, “working with Amber has been really lovely,” says Ben, “and we’ve kind of sparked an incredible relationship, that’s something else I’ve got to be thankful for in landing this role.”
Back To The Future The Musical , starring Ben Joyce as Marty McFly, s currently playing at the Adelphi Theatre