Review: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds Alive On Stage

With its jaw-dropping explosions, laser light show and a monstrous mock-up fighting machine spewing 30ft jets of flame toward the audience, Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds Alive On Stage is pure heaven for fans of HG Wells’s classic tale of Martians wreaking havoc across Victorian London.

But the show’s visual spectacle was eclipsed by perfect performances by a cast including Justin Hayward, Liz McClarnon, Jason Donovan, the Black Smoke Band and ULLAdubULLA Strings orchestra, conducted by Jeff Wayne himself.

Donovan and McLarnon were at home in the roles of the Artilleryman and Beth, originally occupied by David Essex and Julie Covington.

Just as impressive was former X Factor contestant Rhydian Roberts, who put in an animated performance as the deranged Parson, replacing Phil Lynott of the original 1978 album.

But it was former Moody Blues front man Hayward who stole the show in his role as the Sung Thoughts of the Journalist, with the memorable chart singles The Eve of the War and Forever Autumn.

A 100x25ft screen displaying computer- generated video footage of the Martian onslaught and still paintings from the original album’s accompanying booklet provided a backdrop to the stage.

Meanwhile, Richard Burton’s original narration was accompanied by a 11ft-tall holographic animation of the actor himself.

Jeff Wayne’s War of the World Alive On Stage is essential viewing for both hardened fans of 30 years standing to a younger generation who are only just discovering the album for the first time.