Tag Archives: Simon Shorten



Neon 194



“Keith Allen is clearly having a ball playing the scheming and corrupt Stone”

You’re a Wanker – is the opening number of Rehab the Musical and when the end comes, the audience leaves the venue merrily singing it.

It’s the hedonistic nineties when paparazzi, selling stories to the gutter press and dodgy rehabilitation clinics are all the rage. Out of control popster Kid Pop (Christian Maynard) is papped snorting cocaine; so the judge gives him 60 days in rehab, to mend his ways. But his dastardly manager Malcolm Stone (Keith Allen), sets about to keep Kid on the front pages by putting a mole inside The Grange, to dish the dirt on our Kid.

But how do you heal in 60 days? By meeting all the other inmates staying at The Grange. Meet the joyous selection of addicts with big and honest hearts. With addictions to food, drink, gambling and sex; via tanning and cheese addictions we hear their stories as they reveal their innermost obsessions in their daily therapy circle. And it’s here that the real heart of this musical is found through these extreme but loveable characters, brought to life by a line-up of stalwart and talented West End musical theatre performers including: John Barr as tanning addict Barry Bronze, Rebecca Thornhill as ex Bond girl and alcoholic Jane Killy, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey as the heart-breaking Phil Newman whose song Ordinary Girl is a highlight.

“the big ballads are sung with big belting vocals”

Christian Maynard, as Kid Pop, has all the moves, but is not able to bring such a two dimensional character to life, making his journey to redemption hard to believe. Keith Allen is clearly having a ball playing the scheming and corrupt Stone in toupee and large moustache – and even manages to talk his way through his songs with aplomb. Jodie Steele, as Stone’s sidekick Beth, is underwritten; but we get a glimpse of her steel in the song Die at 27.

Rehab the Musical has music and lyrics by Grant Black and Murray Lachlan Young, with book by Elliot Davis – they all have their own personal history in rehab, addiction and recovery. Addiction is a serious subject but Rehab does have a few laughs too – plus some seriously bad jokes taking the names of Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Tom Jones in vain – all so nineties. The lyrics aren’t so poetic and the music is in every pop style going, and the big ballads are sung with big belting vocals. With a clever and simple set by Simon Kenny, the show is slickly choregraphed by director Gary Lloyd, whose full company snorting cocaine routine in Everyone’s Taking Cocaine is brilliantly grotesque.

This is the inaugural show at Neon 194 – and a high calibre theatre in the round it has turned into. However, for a new musical with a great live band playing, it is a travesty that the band are nowhere to be seen. It has become part of the course in musical theatre not to see the musicians – and that does effect the whole experience of a musical.

Today, the woke world is more aware of mental health and addiction – so taking us back to the nineties is maybe an unnecessary step too far?


Reviewed on 16th January 2024

by Debbie Rich

Photography by Mark Senior




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