The War of the Worlds – The Live Show Reviewed

Forget Tom Cruise. Martians invade the stage in Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds.

“No one would have believed” that 28 years ago an experimental prog-rock musical of H. G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds would become one of the most successful albums in UK music history. Now for the first time Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds has finally come to the stage in true epic style.

It all starts with Jeff Wayne, the black smoke band and the 48 piece ULLAdubULLA string orchestra taking to the stage followed quickly by an introduction video on a massive panoramic screen of Martians planning their colonisation of their nearest neighbour Earth.

“No one would have believed in the early years of the 20th century that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space” Boomed the iconic words spoken by the late Richard Burton through a full in sight and sound 10 foot recreation of the actors head.

Then shaking the arena came the powerful opening chords of The Eve of the War. As the music was being played by the talented on stage musicians, stunning specially made footage was occupying the audience to guide them through the story.

As the show goes on you are treated to some mesmerising guitar solos and instrumental explosions from the band and orchestra plus some lavishing set pieces which include a moving 3-legged Martian fighting machine that looms over the stage for most of the show firing flashes of light into the eyes of the audience.

All of this is enhanced by the singing and acting performances of the cast which includes the massively successful Russell Watson who plays Parson Nathaniel (originally played by Phil Lynott), a Parson on the edge of sanity and the Moody Blues front man Justin Hayward who sings the beautiful but haunting Forever Autumn.

But the performance of the show comes from the fairly unknown Alexis Jones who crawls and marches around the stage as The Artilleryman, a complex character who has conceived ideas that are too big for him as a person to execute. Alexis may have been the best living performer in The War of the Worlds, though the real star of the show in fact died 22 years ago. British acting legend Richard Burton narrates and interacts with all the characters as a fully interactive giant head that floats above the stage. It’s not however the 10 foot head that makes his stage presence so strong but his powerful and instantly recognisable voice.

With a mix of live music, film, large set pieces and all singing and acting performances, Jeff Wayne’s live musical version of The War of the Worlds is a multimedia blast of the senses. Not only is Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds the most faithful adaptation of H. G. Wells’ 1898 novel but it is also good music which I think is a rare thing to find in musicals.

The War of the Worlds – The Live Show is currently touring all the UK’s big arenas and I expect it will tour again and again.

For ticket information visit GetLive

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