Anthony, our Chief Fanattik, has been a Back to the Future fan since he was 10 years old. His office features a Back to the Future poster, signed at London Comic Con in 2015 and when Fanattik first entered talks with Universal Studios to create gifts and collectibles for their film titles, Back to the Future was the driving force. One of Anthony’s favourite pieces to date is the pin badge, limited to 9,995 worldwide, that was designed by the incredibly talented Sam Gilbey and features the logo and the DeLorean time machine itself.
In 2019, Anthony was lucky enough to be invited to a read through of Back to the Future The Musical. His standout moment was meeting writer Bob Gale, and being inspired by his tale about how he’d come up with the original idea but the studios initially turned him down. We attended the press launch in October and heard some of the songs and then eagerly awaited 20th February 2020 when it launched on stage at Manchester Opera House. Having attended that opening night, we asked Anthony for his thoughts on the musical and what the future may hold for it.
What did you think about the musical launching in Manchester?
Being a Mancunian myself, I’m probably biased about the city but it’s a real cultural hub, famous for its music scene so feels like a natural precursor for a show before it goes to London’s West End.
What was Manchester Opera House like as a venue?
As we arrived we saw Bob Gale stood out the front, greeting fans and the outside of the building was covered in billboards, not just for the musical itself but also retro billboards, transporting us to Hill Valley. It was quite an immersive experience, they’d even carried it through to the bathrooms where we could hear a 1950s style radio station playing.
And what was the atmosphere like in there? I spoke to people who had travelled from France, Germany and the USA to be there, it was electric. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement when we got our first look at Doc’s workshop, with the audience bursting into cheer before anything else had happened.
You’re a fan of the films, what did you make of the story line?
I felt the musical was true to the story line with a few necessary adaptations, more current references for example, but given the original Back to the Future team were behind this, it’s no surprise it was loyal to the film.
Were there any stand out performances?
It was a really good cast. Olly Dobson played Marty McFly and absolutely nailed Michael J. Fox’s character but there was something so captivating about Roger Bart’s Doc Brown, he really had amazing stage presence. He even held his own mid-air and upside down in the DeLorean when the door flung open in a little opening night mishap! I’d wondered how they were going to get that sense of speed and impact with the DeLorean but a combination of special effects made for some quite dramatic moments.
What did you think of the songs – they were all originals weren’t they?
They definitely added a sense of the era and had a Broadway feel to them but you can’t have Back to the Future without Huey Lewis’ The Power of Love, which rounded off the show.
Would you go and see it again?
Without hesitation and I’d take the kids next time too. Fans have waited a long time for something like this to come along and hopefully coronavirus proves to be an interruption that the production will bounce back from. We are keeping everything crossed that it will return to the stage and make it to London’s West End when we go… Back to the Future.
Fanattik has launched a limited edition collectible coin in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future. There are only 1,000 worldwide so order now.