Review | 20th Century Boy | Opera House, Manchester

Review | 20th Century Boy | Opera House, Manchester


Based on the life of rock legend Marc Bolan, 20th Century Boy is set nearly four decades after the star’s tragic death.

To call this a musical is a push. To call this a tribute show is even more of a push. It’s very unclear as to what style or structure writer John Maher was going for with the show. Sadly, whatever it was, it didn’t work.

Featuring some of the great songs from Marc Bolan and band T.Rex, including ‘Ride a White Swan’, ‘Metal Guru’, ‘I Love to Boogie’, ’20th Century Boy’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Walking back to Happiness’, 20th Century Boy exposes some truths about Bolan’s rise to fame and sudden fall.

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Opening with a beautiful homage to Bolan’s life, including photos of the star performing, news headlines and a soundtrack of his life. The opening homage ended in a loud car crash, which brought the audience back to the day that Marc sadly died.

The use of projections and soundtracks of the 60s, 70s and 80s was excellent but overdone. With a lot of scene changes, Act I felt very disconnected and stop-start, which was quite distracting.

Taking on the title role of Marc Bolan is George Maguire, but unfortunately, does not do him justice. Not really sounding like the star and not getting all of his mannerisms made Maguire look like he was doing a lousy tribute to Bolan. However, Maguire did hold the audience’s attention and make us laugh with Bolan’s energy and crazy style.

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The star of the show and the moment when the audience livened up was at the end of Act I when we are introduced to Bolan’s girlfriend, Gloria Jones. Ellena Vincent stole the show with her quick rendition of ‘Tainted Love.’ A fabulous soulful voice that blew the audience away.

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The script of the show needs work, as it was very dull and boring. If the structure of the story was condensed and the critical moments in Bolan’s life were highlighted more, then there is development and scope for the show.

’20th Century Boy’ is showing at Manchester’s Opera House until Saturday, April 21, and tickets and information can be found here.


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