Iconic – Review – York Grand Opera House
Iconic – Review
York Grand Opera House, May 2017
by Roger Crow
I don’t need much of an excuse to see Iconic, the latest stage epic from Steve Steinman. The brains behind Vampire’s Rock, the fang-in-cheek show that’s been touring for a few years, he’s come up with another crowd-pleaser designed to get feet tapping and hands clapping. With a poster promising hits from the James Bond movies, Kill Bill, Batman, Mad Max and more, it sounds right up my street.
When I settle into the Grand Opera House, York for the evening, it feels more like Steve and his company of musicians have been looking through a playlist on my iPod, picking my favourite tracks, and adapting them for the stage.
The set-up is pretty simple: we are invited into a magical movie theatre, along with a beautiful latecomer who is given a golden ticket by mysterious doorman Benson. Once inside, it appears she can be a part of the movies as long as she signs a Faustian contract. And that’s about it. It’s a slender thread that ties together some of my best-loved songs of the past 40-plus years.
Like one of Berwick Kaler’s pantomimes, there’s a feeling I’ve gatecrashed a party that’s been going on for some time. But it doesn’t take long before I feel part of the fun.
“Outstanding vocalists and performers”
Any gig that opens with The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ is okay by me. What is surprising is not only the high-end graphics on the theatre’s big-screen, but the top-drawer vocals from everyone concerned. For a couple of hours I’m treated to a fabulous display of terrific songs, superb choreography, and a feeling of goodwill that washes over the crowd like a tsunami.
It doesn’t matter that a few lines are fluffed here and there. It’s Steinman’s birthday; he’s allowed to play to the audience. And when he does, it’s often very funny. He’s a smart cookie who’s surrounded himself by some equally outstanding vocalists and performers.
Colleague John Evans has a voice to die for. I’d rather listen to his version of ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ from Spectre than Sam Smith. While the stunning Hayley Russell, Penny Johns and Victoria Jenkins do a great job of belting out some terrific tunes.
‘Holding Out For a Hero’, ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ and ‘Simply the Best’ are just a few of the numbers that are sung like the vocalists’ lives depended on it. And it’s great to hear a version of Kenny Loggins’ Top Gun classic ‘Danger Zone’ instead of the film’s more obvious ‘Take My Breath Away’.
The script could have done with a little more polish, and I could have done without some of the tortuous James Bond puns. But Steinman knows his audience, and also knows the puns are dreadful. However, they do act as a great segue into ‘A View to a Kill’.
By the end of the night we are treated to his outstanding version of ‘Bat Out of Hell’, the song that helped make his name on Stars in Their Eyes all those years ago.
I’ve got a lot of time for the man behind this terrific night out. He was once a guy working behind a bar with a great voice who took his chance when opportunity knocked, built on it and created some great shows.
The fact he and his team brighten up a rain-lashed night and create memories that keep me giggling on the way home is no mean feat. It’s a sexy, feelgood, uplifting experience that I’d recommend to anyone who loves 007 or eighties to noughties movie classics.
To paraphrase one of Aerosmith’s included songs, for a couple of hours you won’t want to close your eyes and you won’t want to miss a thing.