On  a damp and dismal Tuesday afternoon we were lucky enough to be invited along to the launch of the national tour of Sunny Afternoon, the multi-award winning musical about The Kinks, which begins its run at Manchester Opera House, on Friday 19th August. So long to wait? I hear you ask – but trust me, it will be worth it.

The event took place at the Comedy Store in Manchester, a venue I hadn’t visited before but whose intimacy and atmosphere really suited the occasion. There was a buzz in the air around the packed house and we could have been in a club in the 60s waiting for the latest upcoming band, when suddenly the illusion came to life when ‘The Kinks’ took to the stage and launched straight into You Really Got Me. The four young men, who are currently playing the lead roles in the West End, certainly had the looks, the moves and the sound, all absolutely spot on. They followed it up with a lesser known track, followed by the titular Sunny Afternoon and finishing with a driving rendition of All Day and All of the Night.

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As all this would suggest, the musical is set in the Swinging Sixties and charts the rise to fame of The Kinks, exploring their highs, lows and tricky relationships, all set to a backdrop of some of the best British songs ever written. The original story was written by Ray Davies, the songs are all his and he was instrumental in bringing the story to the stage, to incredible critical acclaim.

I would love to tell you more, but this was just a teaser for what Manchester, and indeed the rest of the country, has to look forward to when this musical hits town. When a musical is described with words such as ‘brash, loud, colourful and contagious’, you know it can’t fail to excite. This is no constant assault on the senses, however, as the cast did tell us about some poignant moments, particularly when the song Days is performed – certainly one to tug on the heart strings.

There are over 20 songs in the musical altogether and they are all played/sung live by the talented young cast, who stressed that the great thing about it is that the songs help to tell the story, they are not just thrown in randomly as showcase pieces, as sometimes happens in other shows. Take a look at the track listing and I guarantee you will be stuck with earworms for the rest of the day!

There are some great early booking offers on now so why not head over to the Opera House and get a ticket while you still can? You will be up on your feet before the night is over, under the influence of nothing more than great music and maybe a cherry cola, c-o-l-a…

Carole Ogden, for Bolton Live

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