A satirical musical Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] takes the best from West End comedy hits like The Book of Mormon and classic British pantomimes. The audience laughs from the opening lines until the final song, and it feels like they would sing along too, if only they knew the lyrics.
Following Tony Blair’s life and career, this musical by Harry Hill & Steve Brown shows the British political and cultural life of the last decades in broad strokes. We see a lot of familiar and often long-forgotten figures from past decades: Cherie Blair dancing with Princess Diana, John Prescott signing along with Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, even Osama bin Laden, George Bush and Saddam Hussein make an appearance! Gordon Brown turns into the main opponent to Blair’s rhetoric from those early university days to his reign in the highest office of the land.
Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] is witty and nostalgic at the same time, with numerous references and mini-sketches built around the audience knowing and remembering these people and historical events. If you are not up to speed on 90’s British history, it may be less entertaining. Nevertheless, the musical numbers are great and there are plenty of simpler, panto-style jokes you will get no matter how much or little you know about Tony Blair’s era.
The stage setting is like a classic rock-musical set with gigantic light-up letters TONY hanging above the black and white checked dance floor aka political chess board. Add to that disco lights, smoke machine and live orchestra, and you get a thoroughly enjoyable show all round.
All the actors in the cast play numerous roles throughout the show, changing their hats and wigs, putting on fake moustaches or funky coats to turn into the famous figures from the past with one key defining feature. There might not be many props, but what they do have is practical. The theatre’s layout, with audience seated around the stage, is used to maximum effect by the show’s director Peter Rowe to include the audience, making us part of the action.
Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] is pure satire that is eccentrically British, with a great rock’n’roll soundtrack, and original humour. Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] runs at The Park Theatre until 2 July 2022.