REVIEW: Charles Hutchinson’s verdict on the revival of Roddy Doyle’s Dublin soul musical The Commitments ****  

Ian McIntosh’s Deco: A soul voice to be in heard in the midnight hour…or night and day at the Grand Opera House this week. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

 Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm nightly plus 2.30pm, Thursday and Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

RODDY Doyle has resisted any temptation to update his 1980s’ story of the “hardest-working band in Dublin” for its first tour in five years.

“The vibrancy is still there but so is the tension caused by lack of communication,” he reasons. “For instance, will Deco, the obnoxious lead singer, turn up on time? These days, you’d track him down on your mobile in no time at all. But there wasn’t that option in the late-’80s.”

Back then, he chose Sixties’ music – Motown and Memphis soul – for his young, working-class band because “at the time, it felt timeless”. “Thirty-five years later, I was right,” he says.

What’s more, he went for a “a big band with a brass section and [female] backing vocals, as opposed to three or four young men that was the norm back then”. Right choice number two, as confirmed by a passer-by’s terse reaction to three young men busking Depeche Mode’s 1984 synth anthem Master And Servant: “Sh*te”.

Conor Litten’s jazz-filtering Dean and Stuart Reid’s much trumpeted soul brother Joey The Lips in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

The songs of Otis, Wilson, Marvin, Aretha and co are so familiar, more popular than ever, that we are on first-name terms with their makers. Put a multitude of Motown and Memphis staples in one exuberant show, wrapped inside a Dublin comedy drama full of whimsy, wit, pathos, bluster, booze, banter, too much testosterone and a classic rise and fall arc, and here comes a cracking night out, whatever the year. The craic, writ large and loud as Doyle “captures the rhythm of Dublin kids yapping and teasing and bullying”.

Continuity accompanies this revival in other ways too: from the February 2017 tour visit to the Grand Opera House, Andrew Linnie has stepped up from playing silver-tongued dreamer and putative band manager Jimmy Rabbitte to taking over the director’s chair. Meanwhile, Nigel Pivaro follows another Coronation Street alumnus, Kevin Kennedy, into the role of Jimmy’s Da, forever offering curt advice, slumped over a newspaper in his battered seat beneath the stairs.

Represented by Tim Blazdell’s set design of rundown apartment and garage frontages, The Commitments is set in 1986 in the north side of Dublin, where Jimmy Rabbitte (James Killeen), a visionary manager with the lip of a Malcolm McLaren and the cheek of a Stevo, wishes to build a band on the foundation of his black American soul and blues idols: Redding, Pickett, Gaye and Franklin.

His reasoning: the Irish are the blacks of Europe; Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland; northsiders are the blacks of Dublin, and soul music is the politics of the people; a mantra as familiar as the Choose Life speech in Trainspotting.

Dublin double act: Nigel; Pivaro as Jimmy’s Da, left, and James Killeen as Jimmy Rabbitte. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

The show opens with the first sighting of a Christmas party in York in 2022, as a drunken Deco (Ian McIntosh) bursts into the Regency pub and leaps unsteadily onto a table in his Irish football shirt. This bored factory worker has the sweetest of soul voices – “the voice of God”, as soul brother Joey The Lips will say later – but the attitude of an ass-soul: a Deco heading for a decking.

McIntosh’s incorrigible Deco, rather more of a Celtic dish than Andrew Strong’s Meat Loafian frontman in Alan Parker’s 1991 film, has the swagger and soul fervour of Kevin Rowland in Dexys Midnight Runners’ Projected Passion Revue pomp.

Anything but a Rabbitte in headlights, Jimmy holds auditions with clarity of thought and purpose, the Eighties’ wannabees sent packing in a revolving door of a comical scene, each rapid exit accompanied by a withering word or look from Pivaro’s Jimmy’s Da, eyebrows raised as high as Salvador Dali’s.

The last to join is the mysterious, mystical, scooter-riding soul sage Joey The Lips (a sublime Stuart Reid). Trumpet player to the stars, he may be ageing, but soon Joey will be work his way through the backing singers, Natalie (Eve Kitchingman) pocket dynamo Bernie (Sarah Gardiner) and everyone’s crush, Imelda (Ciara Mackey). Are they a chain of fools? Well, who can resist when Joey tries a little tenderness in grey Dublin town? Oh, and, for the record, their take on Chain Of Fools is fab-u-lous. So too is Think.

Scene stealer: Ronnie Yorke’s ska and scar-loving skinhead bouncer Mickah

Rabbitte strives to spark a Dublin soul revolution with the vim of a Bob Geldof, but such a path to soul salvation can never run smoothly, not when band members are as fractious as Deco and drummer Billy (Ryan Kelly), and scene-stealing bouncer Mickah (Ronnie Yorke) is doing his nut.

Doyle’s narrative is lyrical, colourful, impassioned, fiery, furious and funny, if prone to caricature when painted with broader brush strokes on stage, but like a Mickah punch, The Commitments is a knockout. You may not connect with all the cast of rowdies as there are so many, but you will with the way they play.

Favourite songs this time? Proud Mary, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone and McIntosh’s rendition of It’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate, a song to define Deco’s antagonistic character.

If you can’t get no satisfaction, then you ain’t got no soul. Make a commitment to see The Commitments. NOW!

Review by Charles Hutchinson

Make a date to see James Killeen’s Jimmy Rabbitte and Ciara Mackey’s Imelda, in a clinch, in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

More Things To Do in York and beyond to put colour in Thomas’s black and white world. Hutch’s list No. 105, from The Press

The Commitments: The return of Roddy Doyle’s story of an Eighties’ working-class Dublin band driven by Sixties’ soul power at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Elllie Kurttz

AS The Commitments return, what other commitments would Charles Hutchinson urge you to put in your diary?

Irish craic of the week: The Commitments, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

WHEN schoolteacher Roddy Doyle wanted an excuse to bring a bunch of young people together in book form in 1986 to “capture the rhythm of Dublin kids yapping and teasing and bullying”, he decided to find a setting outside school. “That’s when the idea of a band came to me,” he recalls.

Cue a big band with a brass section and backing vocals, playing Sixties’ Motown and Memphis soul “because it felt timeless”. Cue The Commitments, the novel, the Alan Parker film, and the musical, now revived on tour with Corrie’s Nigel Pivaro as Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da and Andrew Linnie in the director’s chair. Box office: 0844 871 b7615 or

Dave Gorman: Making his stand in Powerpoint To The People

Analytical gig of the week: Dave Gorman, Powerpoint To The People, Grand Opera House, York, tonight, 7.30pm

DAVE Gorman, the comedian behind Dave TV’s show Modern Life Is Goodish, is touring again, determined to demonstrate how a powerpoint presentation need not involve a man in a grey suit standing behind a lectern saying “next slide please”.

“We’ve all had enough of that, so let’s put it all behind us and never speak of it again,” he says. “There are far more important things to analyse.” Well, they are more important in Gormans head anyway. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

Oboe player James Turnbull: Performing this evening’s York Late Music concert with pianist Libby Burgess

Power play of the day: York Late Music: Duncan Honybourne, piano, today, 1pm; James Turnbull, oboe, and Libby Burgess, piano, tonight, 7.30pm, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York

AT lunchtime, pianist Duncan Honeybourne plays David Power’s arrangements of David Bowie (Art Decade) and Bowie & Eno (Warszawa), concluding with Harold Budd/Brian Eno/Power’s Mash Up Remembered. Prokofiev and Satie works feature too.

Power gives a 6.45pm talk tonight ahead of James Turnbull and Libby Burgess’s concert, when his composition Imagine Another receives its world premiere, alongside works by Stravinsky, Tansy Davies, Vaughan Williams, Diana Burrell, Britten and Ravel. Box office: or on the door.

Love’s trials and tribulations: Simon Radford’s Jamie and Claire Pulpher’s Cathy in White Rose Theatre’s musical The Last Five Years

Musical love story of the week, White Rose Theatre in The Last Five Years, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Saturday matinee

FOR York’s newest stage company, White Rose Theatre, director Claire Pulpher and Simon Radford perform Jason Robert Brown’s emotionally charged American musical, charting the path of two lovers over the course of five years of courting and marriage, trials and tribulations.

Struggling actress Cathy Hiatt’s side of the story starts at the end of the relationship; rising novelist Jamie Wellerstein tells his tale from the beginning, but will they ever meet in the middle? The Last Five Years promises laughter, tears and everything in between in a score of upbeat songs and beautiful ballads. Box office:

Mark Thomas in Black And White, seeking answers and finding hope

Political points of the week: Mark Thomas: Black And White, The Crescent, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

BURNING Duck Comedy Club presents political comedy firebrand Mark Thomas on his Black And White tour, promising “creative fun” as he takes down politicians, mucks about, ponders new ideas and finds hope.

Londoner Thomas asks: how did we get here? What are we going to do about it? Who’s up for a sing-song? “After lockdowns and isolation, this show is about the simple act of being in a room together and toppling international capitalism,” he vows. Box office:

Kaiser Chiefs: All roads lead homewards to Leeds next Saturday. Picture: Edward Cooke

Homecoming of the week: Kaiser Chiefs, plus special guests The Fratellis and The Sherlocks, All Together UK Tour, Leeds First Direct Arena, November 12, 7.30pm

NOW in their 22nd year, Kaiser Chiefs head home to Leeds on their November arena tour, as well as playing Hull Bonus Arena on November 8. “It’s been a while…and we can’t wait to see you all again,” they say. “We’re looking forward to putting on a big KC show. See you there!”

Alongside Yorkshire anthems Oh My God, I Predict A Riot, Everyday I Love You Less And Less and Ruby, listen out for new single How 2 Dance, produced by former Rudimental member Amir Amor as the first taster off their eighth studio album, set for release in 2023 as the follow-up to 2019’s Duck.

“I hope to hear it at weddings, on the radio, and in the last remaining indie discos across the land,” says lead singer Ricky Wilson. “How 2 Dance is about letting go, not worrying about what other people think you should be doing. It may not be the smoothest of journeys, but sometimes you need a bit of turbulence to remind you that you are flying.” Box office: Leeds,; Hull,

Pulp fact, not fiction: Jarvis Cocker and co’s poster for next year’s comeback shows

Book early for next summer’s comeback: Pulp, Bridlington Spa, May 26 2023, and Scarborough Open Air Theatre, July 9 2023

LET frontman Jarvis Cocker explain why Sheffield’s Pulp have decided to play their first shows since December 2012. “Three months ago, we asked, ‘What exactly do you do for an encore?’. Well…an encore happens when the crowd makes enough noise to bring the band back to the stage,” he says.

“So…we are playing in the UK and Ireland in 2023. Therefore…come along and make some noise. See you there.”. Box office: and

Back in action: Ryan Adams to play acoustic solo gig in York next spring. Picture: Andrew Blackstein

York gig announcement of the week: Ryan Adams, York Barbican, April 14 2023

NORTH Carolina singer-songwriter Ryan Adams will play York for the first time since 2011 on his eight-date solo tour next spring, when each night’s set list will be different.

Adams, who visited the Grand Opera House in 2007 and four years later, will perform on acoustic guitar and piano in the style of his spring 2022 run of East Coast American gigs, when he played 168 songs over five nights in shows that averaged 160 minutes.

This year, Adams has released four studio albums: Chris, a tribute to his late brother; Romeo & Juliet; FM, a more traditional rock’n’roll record, and Devolver, given away to fans to mark a year’s sobriety. Box office: and

Writer Roddy Doyle is delighted The Commitments musical is on tour again, so good for the soul at Grand Opera House

Ian McIntosh’s Deco and Eve Kitchingman’s Natalie , left, Ciara Mackey’s Imelda and Sarah Gardiner’s Bernie, the not-shy-in-coming-forward backing singers in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

THE Commitments are back on the road in a hit-laden celebration of the bonding powers of soul music, and no-one could be more delighted than creator Roddy Doyle.

“The original stage show in 2013 was a brilliant experience from my point of view,” says the Irish writer. “It stayed in the West End for over two years, then it went on a successful tour.”

Five years on, The Commitments will be touring Britain and Ireland from late-September to July 2023. Next stop: Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12.

Nigel Pivaro, forever associated with playing lovable rogue Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street from 1983 to 2012, takes the pivotal role of Da, Jimmy Rabbitte’s father, while Andrew Linnie, sax player Dean in the original West End production and later Jimmy Rabbitte on tour, is in the director’s seat.

For the West End premiere, Roddy lived in London for 12 weeks, looking on at rehearsals every day, doing daily rewrites. “I attended every preview and then the meetings the next day as we discussed what was and wasn’t working,” he recalls. “My role this time round has been less vital, although sitting in on the read-through with the new cast was just terrific.”

Irish writer Roddy Doyle. Picture: Anthony Woods

Has he felt emotional returning to his first work of fiction, a novel penned in 1987 and then adapted for the screen in 1991 by director Alan Parker, with a screenplay co-written by Doyle, recounting the rise and fall of a young, working-class soul band in Dublin?

“It’s brought back a lot of memories, yes. I was a geography and English teacher at the time when I wrote the novel. I wanted an excuse to bring a bunch of young people together in book form and capture the rhythm of Dublin kids yapping and teasing and bullying,” Roddy says.

“But I needed to find a setting outside school and that’s when the idea of a band came to me. A big band with a brass section and backing vocals, as opposed to three or four young men that was the norm back then.”

Roddy has resisted the temptation to update the setting from the 1980s. “The vibrancy is still there but so is the tension caused by lack of communication. For instance, will Deco, the obnoxious lead singer, turn up on time? These days, you’d track him down on your mobile in no time at all. But there wasn’t that option in the late ’80s,” he says. “And I chose Sixties’ music – Motown and Memphis soul – because, at the time, it felt timeless. Thirty-five years later, I was right.”

For a long time, Roddy was a teacher who wrote on the side. “I loved teaching and the holidays were great, a time when I got into the habit of writing. I wrote The Commitments in 1986, it was published the following year, and I was working on the screenplay in 1988. But I was still teaching up until 1993,” he says.

James Killeen’s Jimmy Rabbitte and Ciara Mackey’s Imelda in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

The Snapper and The Van followed in 1990 and 1991 respectively, joining The Commitments in what became known as the Barrytown Trilogy. Then, in 1993, Roddy hit the jackpot when Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, his novel about a rumbunctious ten-year-old in a north Dublin suburb in 1968, won the prestigious Booker Prize.

“I was delighted,” says Roddy, who was 35 at the time. “It was a great compliment, although I can’t remember what I said in my acceptance speech. But I do recall then being taken away to be interviewed when all I really wanted to do was get back to the table and share the moment with my wife and publisher.

“But it felt as if I’d instantly become public property, and I didn’t like it. What I wanted more than anything was to go back to Ireland and live as near a normal life as possible. I deliberately continued to use public transport, for example. But now, almost 30 years later, I can take it in my stride.”

Pick up any of Doyle’s early books, in particular, and you could almost be reading a screenplay. “That’s true. I think that the best way of establishing characters is to get them talking. That’s especially true of The Commitments – and it gave me a template which I used for some years. The fact is, we talk a lot in Ireland.”

Roddy has an attic office in his home where he writes, but since the lifting of lockdown, he has acquired a room in the city centre where he will tap away too. “At one level, I was asking myself why I’d want another office, but it struck me as a good idea to get out of the house and walk around and experience Dublin opening up, coming alive again. It’s been really interesting,” he says.

Seeing the funny side …or not: Coronation Street alumnus Nigel Pivaro’s Jimmy Da, left, and James Killeen’s Jimmy Rabbitte. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

“Also, my three children are grown up now and no longer living at home, so I’m not surrounded by the rhythm of their speech.”

Roddy takes a disciplined approach to work, usually writing from nine until six each day. “But I’ve become a bit more relaxed as I’ve got older,” he says. “There’s nothing quite as nice as going to see a film at the cinema in daylight, and I never don’t feel guilty.”

Whatever came afterwards, The Commitments will always hold a special place in Roddy’s heart for the simple reason that it was his first published book. He is fond, too, of The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, wherein narrator Paula, after a litany of domestic abuse, realises that her husband, Charlo, has been interfering with their daughter and duly brings down a frying pan on his head?

“I’d found it really hard to write in the first person as a woman,” reveals Roddy. “It took a long time to find Paula’s voice. I also had little or no experience of violence or of physical pain. But into the second year, it began to flow really well.”

Even so, he worried whether he had written something authentic. In 1994, he had penned the four-part series Family for the BBC, featuring Paula and her immediate circle. “When it was broadcast in Ireland, it caused an absolute storm,” he recalls. “It was condemned by the Catholic church. Where were the songs from The Commitments? Where was the laughter? There wasn’t any.”

“The best way of establishing characters is to get them talking. That’s especially true of The Commitments,” says Roddy Doyle. Pictured here are 2022-2023 cast members Sarah Gardiner, left, Ian McIntosh, Conor Litten, James Killeen, Ciara Mackey and Michael Mahony. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

Then Roddy was contacted by Women’s Aid, who had heard he was writing the book. “When I’d finished, I gave them the manuscript, which they then distributed among ten women who’d been through abusive relationships,” he says.

“A few weeks later, I went to a meeting to listen to their reaction. I sat down, the only man in the room, and kind of held my breath. The person in charge asked if anyone wanted to say anything. ‘Yes,’ said the woman in front of me. ‘How did you get inside my bleeping head?’ It’s the best review I’ve ever had in my life.”

At 64, Roddy remains prolific, chalking up 12 novels, three collections of stories, eight books for children and a book he co-wrote with Irish footballer Roy Keane, The Second Half. He has written the plays Brownbread and Guess Who’s Coming For The Dinner and co-adapted The Woman Who Walked Into Doors with Joe O’Byrne, as well as his stage adaptation for The Commitments. He also wrote the screenplays for The Snapper, The Van, Family and When Brendan Met Trudy.

Retirement seems unlikely. Indeed, Roddy was once quoted as saying that he hoped to die mid-sentence. “Well,” he says, “It might be nice to get to a full stop.”

The Commitments, Grand Opera House, York, November 7 to 12, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

The tour poster for The Commitments’ travels in 2022-2023

Corrie soap bad lad Nigel Pivaro reports back for stage duty in The Commitments after turning his hand to journalism

Father and son: Nigel Pivaro’s cynical Jimmy’s Da and James Killeen’s dreamer Jimmy Rabbitte in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

AFTER switching to the fourth estate for a decade and more, Coronation Street bad lad Nigel Pivaro is putting down the notepad to star in the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments.

“I’m thrilled to be marking my return to the stage in this production,” he says, ahead of visiting the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12 in the role of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da in the Irish musical.

“It’s an iconic story that resonates across the years, about people who, though distant from the music’s origins, find communion and expression in the Motown style. A musical genre which was borne out of oppression and which the characters embrace as their own. The Motown Sound is as vibrant today as it was when it first burst through in the Sixties.”

Thirty-five years have passed since The Commitments first leapt from the pages of Roddy Doyle’s best-selling novel with its story of the hardest-working and most explosive soul band from the northside of Dublin,

The 1991 film and a stage musical ensued. Now comes the latest nine-month British and Irish tour, running from next month to July, directed by Andrew Linnie, who played Dean, the saxophonist, in the original West End production in 2013.

The headline news in his cast list is Pivaro’s stage return at 62. “It came about from [playwright] Jim Cartwright saying, ‘how about coming back in? We miss you, mate,’” says Nigel, who forever will be best known for playing lovable Corrie rogue Terry Duckworth from 1983 to 2012.

Nigel Pivaro: Returning to the stage after a long hiatus when investigative journalism became his primary career

“After Jim said that, I started doing some plays for BBC Radio 4, like The Corrupted with Toby Jones, and some commercials, and then the role of Da was offered to me two and a half years ago. I was chomping at the bit: the chance to stretch my theatre legs again in my first theatre role since Bouncers [in 2003].

“But then the first Covid lockdown stopped it for a year, and then more lockdowns put it back another year. Just great! It had been a bit of a slow start for me getting back in, then just as it was gaining momentum, something extraordinary scuppered it.”

Roll on to autumn 2022 for Pivaro’s first appearance at the Grand Opera House since September 2003, when his hot-headed doorman Judd clashed with a fellow soap bad boy, EastEnders’ John Altman’s pontificating yet pugilistic Lucky Eric in John Godber’s nightclub comedy Bouncers.

“I was away from the business for 15 years after that, training as a journalist after doing a Masters degree in International Relations,” recalls Nigel. “I did my NCTJ [National Council for the Training of Journalists) course in Liverpool, my work experience at the Manchester Evening News, and my first staff job was at the Tameside Reporter.”

Freelance reporting ensued for the Daily Star, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily and Sunday Express, and not least Jane’s Defence and Intelligence Review, reporting on military and security topics.

The poster for the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments, announcing Coronation Street legend Nigel Pivaro as the star attraction

“I travelled to Ukraine in the first war in 2014 and did three tours there,” says Nigel. “So I did my journalism from the bottom up, pushing my specialist knowledge into my reporting.

“Over the years, I’ve done everything from interviewing ex-Corrie colleagues and stars from other shows to doing research for a Newsnight feature last year on the shortcomings of the Manchester police.”

Hold the front page, Pivaro has a musical to perform in a new commitment to the stage. “I did see The Commitments film, attracted to it by the music, not knowing what to expect, other than it was an Alan Parker movie, and I’d always liked him as a director,” he says.

“I was just knocked out by how the music and the story were woven together, when often musicals are, ‘right, let’s do another song now’. The Commitments has a strong narrative, with the music weaved into that story without it kicking you in the face.”

Pivaro has read Doyle’s book too, “but I’ve not seen the play, so I’ve got no preconceptions about the stage show,” he says.

“What I can say is there’s dramatic tension, there’s humour, and there’s music. What’s not to like?! There’s a big band with loads of characters, sexy girls, sexy boys, with all that tension that can happen between band members, even in a band on the back streets of Dublin, as much as between John, Paul, George and Ringo.”

Roddy Doyle: Writer of The Commitments. Picture: Anthony Woods

For sure, the show will feature such soul staples as Try A Little Tenderness, In The Midnight Hour, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

“This is the music that has provided the soundtrack to our lives, as hits in the Sixties and Seventies, and then being re-played and re-played at weddings and funerals and parties ever since. They are the standards,” says Nigel, who admits to having preferred Sweet, Mud and Gary Glitter, “anything that harked back to rock’n’roll”, in his youth.

Will he be singing in the show? “No, I don’t think I get to sing a song, but Jimmy’s Da is a big Elvis fan, so I do get to do a few bars of Can’t Help Falling In Love, but that’s it,” he says.

The Irish accent will be key too. “I’ve done accents all over the place. That’s my job!” he says. “There are certain accents you find you can do off pat, like Liverpool, being a Manchester kid. This Dublin accent had better be there because we have two weeks there at the Olympia!”

Tickets for the York run: 0844 871 7615 or at For Hull New Theatre’s October 31 to November 5 run: 01482 300306 or

Copyright of The Press, York

Corrie’s Kevin Kennedy to star in Rock Of Ages’ autumn return to Grand Opera House…but X-Factor winner Matt Terry won’t be. UPDATE 19/07/2022

Kevin Kennedy, right, in his groovy role as Sunset Strip bar owner Dennis Dupree in Rock Of Ages

NEWS JUST IN: Matt Terry will NOT be appearing in Rock Of Ages at the Grand Opera House, York, after all this autumn, but Kevin Kennedy definitely will be.

Contrary to the initial announcement, the X-Factor’s Terry becomes the ex-factor in this visit to York on tour, but who will be playing “Stacee” Jaxx in his stead? The answer is expected to be announced during next week. Watch this space.

CharlesHutchPress wrote on 12/07/2022:

CORONATION Street soap star Kevin Kennedy and The X-Factor’s 2016 winner, Matt Terry, will lead the Rock Of Ages cast at the Grand Opera House, York, on tour from September 27 to October 1.

Visiting York for the fourth time in less than eight years, this rocktastic West End, Broadway, Las Vegas and touring hit is a self-mocking, cheesy jukebox musical comedy built around the classic rock songs of the 1980s from the glam metal prime of Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Europe et al.

Here come Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Wanted Dead Or Alive, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight This Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is, played loud and proud by a live band to Ethan Popp’s OTT arrangements and orchestrations.

Matt Terry’s rock demigod “Stacee” Jaxx in Rock Of Ages

Audiences are invited to “leave it all behind and lose yourself in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair and they really can come true in Chris D’Arienzo’s tongue-in-both-cheeks book.

Kennedy will reprise the role of Dennis Dupree, owner of the Bourbon Room, on Sunset Strip, where he invites Terry’s egotistical rock demigod, “Stacee” Jaxx, to play for the last time with his band Arsenal, back in the basement where they started, after announcing their break-up.

Dupree’s joint, meanwhile, is under threat of closure from joyless German developer Hertz Klinemann and his rebellious son Franz.

Kevin Kennedy: Actor, soap star and musician

Kennedy previously played laissez-faire Los Angeles dude Dupree at the Grand Opera House in April 2019, having earlier appeared there as Jimmy’s Da in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments in February 2017.

Best known for his Corrie soap role as floppy-fringed Curly Watts from 1983 to 2003, he was once in a band with The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke and showcased his Present Kennedy solo album at Fibbers, in York, in July 2002.

Last time in York: Matt Terry, second from left, as Alex the lion in Dreamworks’ Madagascar The Musical at York Theatre Royal in 2019

Terry previously appeared in York in his stage musical debut, Dreamworks’ Madagascar The Musical, playing Alex the lion, king of all the animals in New York’s Central Park Zoo, at the Theatre Royal in February 2019.

He released his debut album, Trouble, in November 2017 and has been working on its follow-up, recording and writing in Miami, Los Angeles, Scandinavia and Spain, as well as fronting his own radio show on Capital FM and starring in Broadway’s Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical on tour.

Tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at

Matt Terry: From The X-Factor to musical lead roles

Corrie bad lad Nigel Pivaro to star in The Commitments at Grand Opera House

Nigel Pivaro: Committing to The Commitments for nine months

CORONATION Street legend Nigel Pivaro will play Da in the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments, visiting the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12.

“I’m thrilled to be marking my return to the stage in this production,” he says. “It’s an iconic story that resonates across the years, about people who, though distant from the music’s origins, find communion and expression in the Motown style.

“A musical genre which was borne out of oppression and which the characters embrace as their own. The Motown Sound is as vibrant today as it was when it first burst through in the Sixties.”

Thirty-five years have passed since The Commitments first leapt from the pages of Roddy Doyle’s best-selling novel with its story of the hardest-working and most explosive soul band from the northside of Dublin.

Now comes a new stage production that will kick off a nine-month British and Irish tour in Bromley in September and run until July next summer, taking in more Yorkshire runs at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from October 17 to 2022 and Hull New Theatre from October 31 to November 5.

Doyle says: “I’m delighted that The Commitments are coming back in 2022 and 2023 and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Nigel Pivaro tackles the part of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da.”

Pivaro, 62, who played lovable Corrie rogue Terry Duckworth from 1983 to 2012, will be directed by Andrew Linnie, whose West End debut came in the original production in 2013, playing the role of Dean, the band’s sax player. Linnie later starred in the lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte in the 2016/2017 UK tour.

Joining the cast as Deco will be Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh, no stranger to this role, having previously played Alternate Deco during the original West End run. His past credits include Galileo in the UK tour of We Will Rock You, Sid Worley in An Officer And A Gentleman and Barry in Beautiful – The Carole King, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in the Oliviers.

Further roles will go to James Killeen as Jimmy; Stuart Reid as Joey; Ciara Mackey, Imelda; Michael Mahony, Outspan; Ryan Kelly, Billy; Conor Litten, Dean; Guy Freeman, Derek; Stephen O’Riain, James; Ronnie Yorke, Mickah; Eve Kitchingman, Natalie, and Sarah Gardiner, Bernie.

Maryann Lynch, Alice Croft, James Deegan, Callum Martin, Joshua Barton, Ed Thorpe and Colm Gleeson will make up the ensemble.

Pivaro last appeared at the Grand Opera House in September 2003 in the role of hot-headed Judd in John Godber’s nightclub comedy Bouncers in a face-off with fellow soap bad boy, EastEnders’ John Altman, who played the pontificating yet pugilistic Lucky Eric.

His earlier roles in York were in Attempt To Kill, in 1988, and A Taste Of Honey, in 1989, both at the Theatre Royal; Steven Berkoff’s Greek, in 1993, at York Arts Centre, and as slimy talent agent Ray Say in The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, in May 2000, at the Grand Opera House.

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at; Shefield, 0114 249 6000 or; Hull, 01482 300306 or

A past production of The Commitments. Picture: Johan Persson

Back story of The Commitments

THE musical has been adapted from the novel by Booker prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, showcasing more than 20 soul classics performed live on stage.

Among them are Night Train; Try A Little Tenderness; River Deep, Mountain High; In The Midnight Hour; Papa Was A Rolling Stone; Save Me; Mustang Sally; I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Reach Out (I’ll Be There); Uptight; Knock On Wood and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

The Commitments tells the story of young, working-class music fan Jimmy Rabbitte, who transforms an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act that becomes the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a haphazard heap of wannabes before finalising the members of his new band, which he names The Commitments.

Humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, grappling with inter-group differences when muddling their way through early rehearsals for the first gig. Just as they improve and begin to gain a name for themselves, they combust.

The backing singers are more interested in the middle-aged, horn-playing legend; the singer has entered Eurovision; the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career. How will it end?