Theatre Review: Monkee Business the Musical - King's Theatre, Glasgow


Over the last year Glasgow has been carving a niche for itself as an out of town test stage for productions on their way to the West End and in keeping with this new trend Monkee Business the Musical opened last night in its Scottish premiere at the King’s Theatre.

A brand new musical based around the music of, yep you’ve guessed it, the Monkees and also featuring selected songs from the same era the music is familiar and firmly places the show in the jukebox genre. The story focuses on four naïve teens that are hired by a sleazy manager to go on a world tour posing as the Monkees because the real band is too busy to go. They are to become the band and their own identities are shaken off as they become Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter for the legions of screaming fans worldwide.

Opening the show with The Monkees Theme Ben Evans, Stephen Kirwan, Tom Parsons and Oliver Saville immediately steal the audience’s attention and could easily pass for the real McCoy with their rich harmonies. The four of them are a force to be reckoned with and I don’t doubt that they collectively have more talent than many of the pop acts out there today.

Both individually and as a four-piece they hold the audience in the palm of their hands embodying the spirit of the Monkees with energy and panache. Unsurprisingly at the curtain call several people leapt to their feet applauding. They particularly shine in the perhaps lesser known Shades of Gray which provides an excellent opportunity for them to showcase their voices.

However, the shaky premise that the musical is built around soon begins to unravel amidst a sparse, clunking set despite the best efforts of the cast and musical director. The trouble with jukebox musicals is that weaving a story around songs that otherwise have no connection to each other is tricky and extremely hard to do well. Where Monkee Business flounders the most is in the second Act where the plot becomes at best far fetched and at worst missing entirely. Billing itself as Austin Powers-esque, the expectation is set that the show is a bit off the wall featuring some madcap happenings but it loses its way and is only rescued by the catchy music and strength of the cast.

For fans of the Monkees the show is definitely a must see and Ben Evans, Stephen Kirwan, Tom Parsons and Oliver Saville are unmissable and worth the ticket price in their own right but despite the undoubtedly catchy tunes and stellar cast, Monkee Business needs to stop monkeying about and undertake some remedial development work before it transfers to the West End.

Until Saturday 21 April 2012
Tue – Sat 7.30pm
Ticket prices £19.50 - £39.50
Box Office 08448 717 648