Neon 194, London
Music & lyrics by Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young
Book by Elliot Davis
Directed & choreographed by Gary Lloyd
After a premiere on London’s fringe in 2022, Rehab The Musical takes up a brief residence at Neon 194, a nightclub in the heart of the capital.
The show is brilliantly conceived. Drawn from the lived experiences of songwriters Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young, the musical charts the breadths and depths of addiction, while also throwing a spotlight on the callous and manipulative nature of today’s celebrity culture and the vulnerability of individuals, both humble and famous.
The cast in 2022 were magnificent - here they’re even better with the show having to be one of the finest ensemble pieces around.
Keith Allen still leads as Malcolm Stone the vile (think Max Clifford) villain of the piece. Allen offers a brilliantly fleshed out caricature that could hardly be played better by anyone else. Mica Paris joins the show as Martha, a rehab counsellor with her vocals proving fabulous in the second half’s Museum Of Loss.
John Barr and Jodie Steele also return, Barr as tanning-salon addict Barry Bronze and Steele as Beth, Stone’s henchman with a twist and both perform at the top of their game.
Newcomer to the show Oscar Conlon-Morrey steps into the role of the deeply damaged Phil, a man with numerous flaws in his mental health. Conlon-Morrey is magnificent in this most complex of characters, enhanced by his majestic vocal work.
Driving the show’s narrative are Christian Maynard and Maiya Quansah-Breed, respectively Kid Pop, the celeb at the centre of the story and Lucy, the fragile young woman with a troubled past but a strong moral background. Quansah-Breed’s voice is sensational, with her portrayal the more credible of the two. Rebecca Thornhill delivers a modest but flawlessly performed cameo as former Bond-girl Jane.
Combining humour with pathos, the show resonates with an authentic message that’s drawn from the writers’ lives. There’s lyrical magic too, not least in the hauntingly beautiful Two Broken People.
Gary Lloyd again directs and choreographs with flair, but his choice of staging in the round is hampered by the venue’s flat performing space, with characters too often either being obscured from view or simply poorly lit. The show merits a West End run on a traditional proscenium stage - Neon194 does not do it justice.
The ingredients however remain for a smash hit production - Rehab The Musical offers a strong credible story, great songs and an outstanding cast.
Runs until 17th February
Photo credit: Mark Senior