Not content with his original album concept or his previous concert versions, Jeff Wayne has reworked his classic opus using current technology and modern styles of production and arrangement.
And the result? An expanded show with more of HG Wells’s original words spoken by the narrator, no longer the static hologram of Richard Burton but a more interactive one using Liam Neeson instead; technical wizardry that had heat rays sweeping the audience; onstage incineration and fully screened film and images.
It was more spectacular than ever and there, perhaps, lies the rub. It can be argued that the spectacle has taken over. The constant use of film has removed the need to use one’s imagination and almost diminishes the music to that of a soundtrack. Its overuse was a distraction, with the repeated images losing their effectiveness.
That said, it was still a cracker of a show which thrilled and pulsated with vitality from the Black Smoke band and the lyricism of the string orchestra.
There were exciting performances from the guest stars, Marti Pellow, Kerry Ellis and Will Stapleton. Jason Donovan, particularly, impressed as the demented Parson and Ricky Wilson’s version of Brave New World was outstanding.