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All Or Nothing review at the Vaults, London – ‘entertaining mod musical’

Carol Harrison, Mark Newham and Chris Simmons in All or Nothing at the Vaults, London. Carol Harrison, Mark Newham and Chris Simmons in All or Nothing at the Vaults, London.
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In 1966, mod band the Small Faces knocked the Beatles from the number one spot with their first big hit All Or Nothing. Carol Harrison’s new musical charts the bands rise to fame from a gang of east London wannabes to legends of swinging London’s music scene. Thematically this may be a well trodden path for a jukebox musical but Harrison adds flashes of humour and there are enough cameos to satisfy the most ardent fan.

With such a predictable storyline, the music has to stand out and this young quartet of Manor Park peacocks pull it off. Led by Mark Newnham, as cocky front man Steve Marriott, the group capture that unmistakable mix of anger and arrogance that defined the mod sound. Harrison frames her story with Chris Simmons as the older Steve, wise to his flaws but too late to counter the problems and pitfalls of addiction.

Tony McHale’s direction occasionally appears at odds with the material, resulting in awkward cues and some early pacing issues but designer Rebecca Brower’s set inhabits the Vault space thoroughly, spilling mod memorabilia into the venue’s bars and helping to set the mood as eloquently as Marriott’s lyrics.

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Predictable but entertaining new musical that recreates the Small Faces sound