After a very successful tour back in 2012, Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds returns to Liverpool Echo Arena with an all star cast for the sixth and final time, falling on the 75 th anniversary of the Orson Welles radio adaptation, the 35 th anniversary of Jeff Wayne's multi-platinum album and the 115 th anniversary of HG Wells novel.
Jeff Wayne said: "Bringing The War of The Worlds to life in many of the world's finest arenas has been the most amazing experience for me over the last seven years. We've achieved more than we ever thought was possible both musically and technologically.
All I can say for the future of TWOTW is - Watch this space!"
Having only seen the movie, I was somewhat underprepared to see the stage version of this show as I had no idea what to expect. Based on the science fiction novel by HG Wells, it was separated into two acts The Coming of the Martians and The Earth Under the Martians and followed key characters as they tried to fight back and reunite with their loved ones.
In summary, Martians come from mars and use their heat rays, black smoke and red weed to wipe out the population of the earth. Opened by HG Wells (Callum O'Neill), he set the scene for the oncoming war against the Martians, which was introduced with the hit single The Eve of War.
It followed the character of a journalist, played by Liam Neeson, unfortunately not in the flesh, much to my disappointment, but he narrated from a large screen to the left of the stage and appeared as a 3D hologram that the actors interacted with, and very convincingly so.
Neeson is struggling to find his wife after the Martian attack on London and after she departs on a paddle steamer to escape the onslaught; this drives them even further apart.
Brain McFadden provided The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist and performed the moving Forever Autumn, in which the audience were covered in paper leaves that fell in their hundreds from the ceiling. He said; "I've long been a fan of The War of The Worlds and am so excited to be involved in the tour. It's a true honour to be involved in this electrifying show and to be joining such an exciting cast, including singing the thoughts of The Journalist, who is played by one of my Irish heroes, Liam Neeson. It's also a thrill to be performing the two international Hit Singles "The Eve of The War" and "Forever Autumn". I can't wait for the tour to start - it's going to be incredible!"
It was quite literally magical.
"The War of The Worlds is a classic. This production is on a scale like nothing I have ever done before - the effects are breath-taking both in front and behind the stage! It's also one of the most enjoyable, most exciting and most memorable musical productions of all time. It's a true honour to be returning for the third time, especially as this is the final Arena tour."
Jason Donovan brought a religious element to the performance as the Parson Nathaniel, who battled with his beliefs vs the reality of what was happening around him; "The War of The Worlds is a classic. This production is on a scale like nothing I have ever done before - the effects are breath-taking both in front and behind the stage! It's also one of the most enjoyable, most exciting and most memorable musical productions of all time. It's a true honour to be returning for the third time, especially as this is the final Arena tour."
"I'm delighted to have been cast as Beth, Parson Nathaniel's wife: I genuinely can't wait to get started. My family and I grew up listening to the album and now I'm going to be a part of it. My character levitates and disappears into thin air in full view of the audience, so that's rather exciting too!"
Carrie Hope Fletcher starred as his wife, following her West End performance as Eponine in Les Miserables. Her voice complimented Donvan's perfectly in their powerful duet. "I'm delighted to have been cast as Beth, Parson Nathaniel's wife: I genuinely can't wait to get started. My family and I grew up listening to the album and now I'm going to be a part of it. My character levitates and disappears into thin air in full view of the audience, so that's rather exciting too!"
Shane Ward played an optimistic artillery man who crossed paths with Neeson on his search for his wife, with a strong solo performance as his character tried to re-establish amenities after the attack.
Joseph Whelan, from The X Factor 2013 performed the role of The Voice of Humanity.
Talking about Joseph, Jeff Wayne commented;
"I met Joseph via a mutual friend who manages The Who and a number of other major rock artists. Knowing TWOTW, he thought Joseph would be ideal for the role of The Voice of Humanity. At that point I wasn't aware that Joseph had been on X Factor, and had also enjoyed a No 1 album in the UK Rock Charts and was touring regularly.'
The 100 ft. animation wall provided a stunning backdrop to the iconic 3 tonne, 35 foot bug eyed Martian fighting machine that projected heat rays into the audience, which set the stage on fire and incinerated a cast member- not really- but it was a very convincing and spectacular scene.
Although the graphics were criticised for being slightly outdated by one audience member I overheard in conversation, I thought that this was a very unfair comment. It may not be to the standard of a Spielberg film, however it allowed the audience to visualise the slithery, brain like creatures inside the fighting machines and connect with the journalist's wife, as well as the people who were affected by the attacks. And let us not forget that the novel is now over 100 years old- so something state of the art would not have paid homage to the time frame in which the novel was set.
Although the premise was simple, the music, animation, holographics, acting, stage props and lighting all came together in one breath-taking performance.
If you are not a sci-fi fan like me, put all your reservations to one side and go and see this show. It has universal themes of love and a powerful anti-war message running throughout which everyone can relate to. An absolute triumph.
Quotes: Liverpool Echo Arena Official Site