TONY! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] ★★★★ Leicester Square Theatre | Apr 15 - May 21, 2023

The career arc of Tony Blair might seem tragic rather than comic, but Harry Hill and Steve Brown squeeze a lot of humour out of the rise and fall of one of Britain's most controversial politicians. The story opens with Blair on his deathbed and then traces the life of the genial young man who was desperate to be somebody. While Blair's aspiration may change from being a rock star to becoming a politician, his smile always remains firmly in place. Indeed, beneath all the fun, the story exposes how Blair brings show business into politics and rides a charming persona to the highest office in the land. However, he depends on others for his policy agenda and that is eventually his undoing. Howard Samuels is quite wonderful as Peter Mandelson and Dick Cheney, the fixers behind the facade, and Jack Whittle is brilliantly vacuous as the breezy Blair. Whittle's facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission. He plays off beautifully against Phil Sealey's dour Gordon Brown whose "Macroeconomics" is a highlight of the show. We also loved "The Princess And The Pop Prime Minister" and "The People's Princess" which linked Blair to Princess Diana, the other great media manipulator of the period. You don't need to be a serious follower of British politics to enjoy this story of Tony Blair's rise in the Labour party and his subsequent three terms as Prime Minister. The show is a hilarious commentary on the universal nature of politics and its satire rings true for "The Whole Wide World." For us, this is probably the funniest political musical since Mel Brooks' "Springtime for Hitler."

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior.

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