THEATRE REVIEW: TONY! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) at Leicester Square Theatre

By Neil Durham


WHEN?: Sunday 7 May, runs until 21 May and then tours until 14 October 2023 RUNTIME: 120 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

We’re reminded of musical The Book Of Mormon by 2 of TV’s South Park creators during this show’s finale as the lead sings: ‘The Whole Wide World is run by assholes.’

  • Read on for reasons including where to see this Harry Hill musical as it tours the UK until October

It was an unexpected lyric that caused much laughing and even a spontaneous ripple of applause and is very much this musical’s best song in a show by TV comedian Harry Hill and Steve Brown, who discovered the brilliant Rumer and Laura Mvula.

The pair also wrote the much-maligned X Factor musical I Can’t Sing at the Palladium which we rather enjoyed and starred a young Cynthia Erivo who has gone on to win a Grammy and a Tony as well as 2 Oscar nominations.

TONY! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) is the story of the rise of the Labour politician who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007 and saw his popularity dwindle following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Musicals are very suited to rise and fall stories and this 1 takes no prisoners in lampooning Blair throughout from his students days in band Ugly Rumours during which we very much enjoyed the catchy ‘I want’ number he sings titled I’m Gonna Be Somebody.

Jack Whittle has a lot of fun as Blair and grins maniacally, Joker-like, through much of the show not least when reflecting: ‘I only got into politics to meet Mick Jaggers and that didn’t happen.’

Two of our favourite Greenwich Theatre pantomime stars feature Phil Sealey (Robin Hood) and Martin Johnston (Robin Hood) not least as Gordon Brown and George W. Bush.

Things get very South Park – especially film Team America: World Police – at the start of Act 2 with the arrival of Bashar al-Assad (and the rhyming of ‘masses’ with ‘chemical gasses’) and Sealey as Saddam Hussein singing I Never Done Anything Wrong.

Emma Jay Thomas (The Queen Of Hearts, Greenwich Theatre) is also very funny as a sexed-up Princess Diana and inspires some of the most joyous numbers at the close of Act 1 – The Princess And The Pop Prime Minister and The People’s Princess.

Howard Samuels breaks the fourth wall in a multiplicity of characters not least as Lord Peter Mandelson lecturing the impressionable Blair about the need for the carrot rather than the stick.

Special mention to for Rosie Strobel who sang brilliantly and was very funny in numerous roles including a fond-of-a-thump John Prescott.

Blair is still a very divisive figure and this rock opera is at its strongest when the titular character turns his attention to the audience reflecting on his 3 election victories, the last after the Iraq war, and asks them who they think the monster is.

TONY! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) is a lot of fun, has some great songs and tours the UK after this London run.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy TONY! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) Tickets
  • Have you heard any other Loreen songs or seen any of her shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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