Andy McGregor appears to be spearheading a resurgence in homegrown musicals. Crocodile Rock, originally performed as part of Òran Mór’s 2019 A Play, a Pie and a Pint season, is now embarking on a well-deserved national tour.
Steven McPhail is 17 and stuck on a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland, not knowing quite who he is, or what the hell to do with his life. His prospects boil down to working in his dad’s hard-as-nails pub, or his mum’s B&B. There’s that, and the daily humiliation of going to school to face the object of your affection who has made your life hell since you tried to kiss him.
Steven’s horizons expand way beyond the beaches of the Isle of Cumbrae to the bright lights of the big city, when he tentatively takes his first steps in stilettos and makeup after he meets the glorious Vincente the “queen from Barcelona”.
This one-man-and-a-band musical is absolutely what the Scottish theatre-going public needs right now; with places we know, references we whole-heartedly get, with characters we can really care about and a conciseness of storytelling (coming in at an economic under-90 minutes).
The fact that we care is not only down to McGregor’s emotional rollercoaster of a show, but the central performance on which its success firmly rests. Stephen Arden is utterly magnetic as Steven, completely compelling and thoroughly sublime from the get-go. He flits through a myriad of characters with stunning ease, making each distinct – no mean feat and one to be lauded. That coupled with an impressive vocal range of which he has complete control, it’s a sure-fire recipe for success.
This fabulous musical about finding your tribe is a must-see. It will leave you with a skip in your step and a song in your heart.
Runs until 1 October 2022 then touring | Image: Tim Morozzo