All Or Nothing: The Mod Musical by Carol Harrison and directed Tony McHale is based on the rise and fall of famous 1960’s band The Small Faces. Kenney Jones, Ian Mlagan, Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriot begin life as a band as talented teenage boys with passion, humour, and a touch of attitude leading them to success with massive hits such as “All Or Nothing”, “Sha-la-la-la-lee” and “Whatchya Gonna Do About It?”. However becoming one of the UK’s biggest bands has it’s demons; after endless tours, gruelling schedules, and being on contract for just twenty pounds a week with cutthroat manager Don Arden (father to Sharon Osborne), this ultimately leads to the self-destruction of the band and tragedy.
The Vaults Theatre Waterloo is a perfect location for this musical. The tunnel archway in the auditorium creates a unique scene for any performance and certainly emphasised the ‘gig’ atmosphere that All Or Nothing achieved. The only downside to this venue is the occasional dull rumblings of trains above as this is an underground location directly underneath London Waterloo Station- however thankfully the noise was mostly drowned out because of the live band on stage.
The members of the band played by Drew-Levi Huntsman, Josh Maddison, Joseph Peters, Joshua Dowen and Mark Newnham are all skilled actor musicians who act out the story and bring the songs of The Small Faces to the performance by playing live as a band throughout. Chris Simmons plays the role of older deceased Steve Marriot (younger Steve played by Mark Newnham) and narrates the story with a fag and drink in his hand. Chris’s portrayal of Steve is bittersweet and entertaining, the audience were drawn in to his charisma whenever he spoke and touched in the sadder scenes towards the end. A particular audience favourite in the production was ensemble member Daniel Beales who played Steve’s bumbling father and several iconic roles such as Tony Blackburn and Sonny Bono. He was a crowd favourite that had the audience laughing throughout, along with writer/producer Carol Harrison playing Steve’s Mum… who seemed to have an uncanny resemblance to none other than Peggy Mitchel.
The story itself is very turbulent as we see the band go through a rollercoaster of a journey. Despite the lows, we are met with lots of humour- even if some of the cliché jokes are not to everyone’s taste! The nostalgic elements from the 60’s choreography by Cameron Hall, the groovy girls, and the live band all combine to make a real concert setting. Although I wasn’t around at the time of The Small Faces, I really did feel like I was a rebellious teenager sneaking out to go to a gig in the 60’s. While some jokes may have been wasted on me, it’s certainly a show for those of the time period and fans of The Small Faces. Thankfully due to popular demand, the show has been extended an extra three weeks so if you’re looking for a fun night out and some good old British Pop culture- get your tickets!
Reviewed by Ellie Devonshire
All Or Nothing is playing at The Vaults Festival until 21 May 2016