Throughout all our lives, I can guarantee that we have met someone who has told us that they wanting to start a band. Some of those have been very successful and some… Less so! I have had people tell me that they are going to be a lead guitarist in a band without ever picking up a guitar in their life which while learning as you go is very possible, seems like a very big task that many people are not up to. I can almost basically guarantee that these people told you about their musical career aspirations were high school/primary school age which is a very weird time in someone’s life as it is the time in your life where you are most confident but also the most self-conscious which does seem very contradictory but we have all been through it. This musical follows a 16-year-old Connor who starts a band in an attempt to impress a mysterious girl (males starting a band to be even more attractive to the opposite gender is, in my opinion, one of the most common reasons for wanting to start a band) but also in an attempt to escape their dreary lives.
The musical itself is set in Dublin during 1982 which is great as the music fits perfectly with the choice of music used in the show (but more on that later.) The show is a musical adaption of the 2016 golden globe nominated, John Carey film of the same name. John also worked alongside Gary Clark on the music & lyrics for this version of the show which can only benefit the authenticity of the show on relation to the original movie. The music sits comfortably in the 80s electric inspired ‘band’ tracks that are so cleverly crafted that they could easily be performed at ‘normal music’ festivals without seeming out of place. It’s very difficult to describe what I mean by this ‘band’ style but you can give it a listen on Spotify to truly appreciate the fact that it kind of breaks the ideas of musical theatre songs that people are used to. The book for this show was written by Edna Walsh and this team is an effective workforce as Sing Street was supposed to open on Broadway earlier this year’s but due to complications of the virus has been postponed next year.
This is absolutely a show of two halves with the first few songs being crammed full of energy and joy. The whole show opens with the iconic 1981 Depeche mode song “Just can’t get enough” which instantly grabbed my attention. Having such a unique, recognisable song being the opening song in the show is a clever way to introduce the style of music and instantly spike the excitement levels from the audience. As this is the only covered song in the entire show it’s great that it opens shows to gauge interest compared to shows such as Shrek where “all-star” is the closing number is the show which creates this celebration and party vibes to end the show but in this show, the iconic song opens the show to start the momentum of the narrative. A clear star in this musical was Brenock O’Connor who plays the lead character, Conor Lawlor. His voice is perfectly suited to the style of music and is a very talented performer and nothing showcases his vocal abilities than his performance during “dream for you” which is a very emotional song about love and compassion. His other stand out moment for me was during “Drive it Like you stole it” which is an insanely intense, high-energy song which is all about living life in the fast lane (see what I did there 😉) and taking advantage of any/all opportunities that get handed to us.
I thoroughly enjoyed the song “To Find You”, which is again performed by Brenock, and was flawlessly performed so much so that I struggled to keep the tears at bay. Brenock managed to express every emotion in this song perfectly and I imagine when performed live would be even more heart-wrenching. The rendition of “Up- down version” really showcases the pure skill of both the performers and their incredible vocals that blend flawlessly together and sound incredible. “Go Now” is a message all about achieving your dreams while maintaining the level of urgency that was built earlier in the show. It encourages people to chase their dreams down as soon as possible which is a great message in my opinion. Despite all this, I did have a small issue with the finale song in this musical. It starts very subdued and emotional but then it picked up energy later in the show. I love when shows end with an upbeat feeling as it makes the audience feeling empowered and positive as they leave the theatre. When towards the end of the show, it dips again back to the more serious vibe which I could have personally done without. I was also a little disappointed by the song “Faith of our Father” as it is only one moment despite how emotionally driven it started. I would have loved a fully fleshed realisation of this song as it could have become a very emotional song but was too short to truly hit the nerves it needed to.
Overall, this is a show that’s starts crammed full of energy and fun but also at times becomes more emotionally driven and serious. Brenock showcases his vocal abilities throughout and suits the general vibe of the show perfectly. I am genuinely excited for its broadway debut later next year as I think all the energy and emotions are exaggerated in live performances. I would rate this show as 4 and a half stars out of five!