The downstairs of Neon 194 on Picadilly has been transformed from a nighclub vibe room into an in-the-round performance space whilst Rehab the Musical plays until 17th February 2024, it's an intimate space which allows the audience to become immersed in all the action, emotion and humour of the story.
It's a familiar story, it's 1999 and a pop star is papped snorting cocaine, and consequently has to face a judge. Kid Pop is played by Christian Maynard, who looks every inch the star - a cross between Billy Idol and Robbie Williams, but black. Full credit to Rob Jones for the costume design.
Given the choice of a custodial sentence or 60 days in Rehab at The Glade, Kid Pop takes what he belives to be the easy choice - 60 days in rehab will be a doddle surely? I have to say that I was taken by suprise at the Judge and jury bursting into a song called 'Wanker', which was then reprised twice more through the show. I knew then that this wasn't going to be just another musical, it's something edgy and fresh - even if it has been 25 years in the making.
We get to meet the other patients, amongst them are the camp and fabulous Barry Bronze played by John Barr -addicted to tanning, Jane Killy 'I used to be a Bond Girl' , an alcoholic played by Rebecca Thornton (who we last saw in Gypsy at the Mill at Sonning), a yo-yo food addict with a secret second identity played with depth by Oscar Conlon-Morrey.
These damaged people are in therapy with Martha Prosser, played by the powerful Mica Paris MBE, who is herself a recovered addict (the character, not Mica!). But it's not going to be easy for any of them, and made harder by the Machiavellian plans of Malcolm Stone, played by a be-whiskered Keith Allen, and his bright under-valued assistant Beth played by Jodie Steele. Needing to ensure that Kid Pop isn't fogotten by the public during his 60 days of re-hab they strike a deal with exotic dancer Lucy to infiltatrate the Glades. Lucy is played by the stunning Maiya Quansah-Breed. Lucy is reluctant, but agrees as it's a route back to custody of her son. Her song 'Through his eyes' is a touching ode to the love a mother has for her child.
Keith Allen's songs are delivered Ian Dury style, more talked than sung, and some of the funniest lyrics in the show. I did wonder how much Malcolm's character was based on Malcolm McLaren. The absolute show stopper for me was the duet between Mica Paris and Maiya Quansah-Breed, it had power and depth and was absolutley beautiful.
As events spiral, there are of course consquences, and people who are bystanders to the Kid Rock plot get hurt. There is also love, hope and redemption. Who'd have thought that it could have taken the shape of selling cheese in the Cotswolds (Alex James anyone?) - perhaps one of the sillier parts of the musical.
And every villian must get his come-uppenace - Malcolm finds himslef before the same judge and the story comes full circle.
If you are looking for an evening of pure entertainment, with a very talented cast, get yourself to Rehab!
Written by Grant Black, Murray Lachlan Young and Elliot Davis
Cast: Keith Allen, Christian Maynard, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Jodie Steele and soul diva Mica Paris MBE, John Barr, Carly Burns, Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Ben Mabberley, Simon Shorten, Rebecca Thornhill, Lucy Sinclair.
Director & Choreographer Gary Lloyd
Set Designer Simon Kenny
Musical Supervisor & Arranger Katy Richardson
Costume Designer Rob Jones
Lighting Designer Tim Oliver
Sound Designer Chris Whybrow
Orchestrator and Music Copyist Jude Obermüller
Casting Director Anne Vosser
Assistant Director/Choreographer and Resident Director Alex Codd
Producer Clive Black
Co-Producers Don Black, Nicola Martin and Jane Savidge
Assistant Producer & General Manager for Blacklist Entertainment Jayne Meegan
General Manager Manager Peter Huntley and Callum Runciman for Smart Entertainment
Where: Neon 194
London W1J 9LN
When: now to Saturday 17 February 2024
Ticket Prices: from £35
Age Recommendation: 12+ years (personally I'd say older than this given the very adult themes)