Forum musical hard to beat

The cast of Teenage Kicks - A Punk Musical
The cast of Teenage Kicks - A Punk Musical

There’s no doubt ‘Teenage Kicks: A Punk Musical’ won’t appeal to everyone.

Fans of anarchy and pure punk may be disappointed but fans of quick witted musical theatre - who like a hint of Northern Irish banter thrown in - will find it, as the song says, hard to beat.

The young cast of ‘Teenage Kicks’ gave it their all for a two hour performance which whipped through a host of punk hits, some definitely performed as you have never heard them before.

The plot, penned by Northern Ireland writing supremo Colin Bateman is, perhaps a bit far fetched in places but this is not prime time television; this is musical theatre and a touch of ‘wilful suspension of disbelief’ is required.

Set against the backdrop of the early 90s, the show follows the story of a young Derry student caught up in trouble in Derry who travels to America for his own safety as part of a student exchange programme.

Arriving in St. Francis Xavier High School, he brings a fresh outlook to many of the teenagers in the Iowa town of Diresville.

If it sounds a bit like Footloose or Glee with a punk soundtrack, you may be right. And for many that will appeal.

I was familiar with many of the tracks, and there were undoubted highlights. The show (with brilliant set design by Stuart Marshall) opens to the thumping soundtrack of Alternative Ulster. But for me it was the Buzzcocks’ classic ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ - beautifully arranged by musical director Alan Wright - which stood out.

The title track, the only Undertones song in the production, was also outstanding, and the energy surrounding it was infectious.

Cast wise, there were stand out performances from Darren Franklin as Kevin and Mikey Jay-Heath as Jake, with Rhiannon Chesterman, Nicky Harley and Jim Lecky also making a strong impression.

It was a brave move of the Millennium Forum and the Nerve Centre to put this musical together, and for Colin Bateman to put his name to a show so many people have been interested in seeing.

For my money, it was a gamble that paid off. I could see the show transferring elsewhere and I would hate to think that once this week was over it would disappear into the ether.

It oozes raw energy, enthusiasm and local talent and for teenagers everywhere wanting to fit in or anyone who ever was a teenager and who struggled to fit in, it is a ‘must see’.

Teenage Kicks, A Punk Musical will run at the Millennium Forum until Saturday.