Sunny Afternoon

Theatre, West End
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsGeorge Maguire, Ned Derrington, Dominic Tighe, Tam Williams and Adam Sopp
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsAdam Sopp, Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Lillie Flynn and George Maguire
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsAshley Campbell
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsCarly Anderson and John Dagleish
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsCarly Anderson, George Maguire and Emily Goodenough
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsJohn Dagleish and Ben Caplan
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsJohn Dagleish and George Maguire
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsJohn Dagleish and George Maguire
 (© Kevin Cummins)
© Kevin CumminsJohn Dagleish and Lillie Flynn

From 5 October 2015, cast includes Danny Horn, Oliver Hoare, Tom Whitelock and Damien Walsh as The Kinks.

The Kinks were a bunch of delightfully scrappy north London outsiders, and at a push you might say the same about this musical based on their songs, which transfers to the Harold Pinter from the wilds of, er, Hampstead Theatre.

‘Sunny Afternoon’ doesn’t feel like a big West End show, but that’s a compliment to Ed Hall’s spunky production and its air of scrubbed-up anarchy. Its cast may only be modest in size, but by the end they all feel like old friends, wandering freely into the audience in a theatre made more intimate via cabaret seating and a runway projecting deep into the stalls. It sidesteps several musical clichés: none of the leads dance, and indeed the four actors playing the band could probably have everybody else currently on London’s stages in a fight. Only the most faint-hearted of souls will find anything to offend them – I don’t think there’s even any swearing – but the frequent cacophony of live instruments mark this as a breed apart.

Written in collaboration with Ray Davies, Joe Penhall’s biographical book focuses on the life of the chief Kink. It teeters towards hagiography, but John Dagleish puts in the show’s most compelling performance as Ray. A troubled, sensitive soul who finds himself both massively famous and married with a child by the age of 20, he has an almighty freakout while brother and guitarist Dave (George Maguire) enjoys it all rather too much.

It is great fun. Miriam Buether’s Swinging Sixities designs are wonderful and the hit-packed last 20 minutes utterly joyous: it’s great that the bulk of the songs are blasted out in the bone-rattling style of a gig rather than being prettified for the theatre.

Nonetheless, for all its stylish insouciance, I felt ‘Sunny Afternoon’ fell short on ambition. The Kinks’ story was a grand soap opera that stretched on for 30 years and would have been ripe for a ‘Jersey Boys’-style epic. Instead Penhall’s book is a simplistic, sentimental summary of their first two years that ends on a rather contrived high. There are still genuflections to musical theatre convention, with some of Davies’s best tunes handed to minor characters to belt out in jokey song-and-dance routines. And it’s slightly bloated – thirty-odd tunes feels a bit much.

‘Sunny Afternoon’ is a superior jukebox musical that deserves to be a hit. But behind its rough ’n’ ready façade, there’s a sense of calculation that The Kinks themselves never demonstrated.

By: Andrzej Lukowski


Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:22
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
2 people listening

It was fabulous!!! The music was incredible and the cast were fantastic - loved seeing their instrumental abilities as well as hearing their amazing voices. Was like watching a Kinks concert at the end! So much fun.


Went to this musical with my dad and loved it. I thought I knew the Kinks, but turns out there is a load of music in their repertoire I didn't even know was by them, and really just made me wish I'd actually lived in the 60s (I wish this often) and had seen them live. Great standard of singing and acting, all of the leads were brilliant and supported by a well designed set and smooth stage management. What I liked about this musical was that it really opens up the world of the Kinks. Their music is already accessible, but this places them in context, in London, in the '60s, in their working class home life, their U.S tour and everything that made them who they were. I also think the sign of a good musical (other than making you want to cry/dance/sing along) is when you go away and want listen to all the songs all the time, and this definitely made me want to listen to the Kinks for a week solid afterwards.


I heard so many rave reviews about Sunny Afternoon, which is a musical about a group that is maybe slightly before my time. Having not been a fan of musicals with little storyline but a whole string of songs knitted together (like We Will Rock You, Close to you, American Idiot etc), I was a little apprehensive about this one as well. The audience around me loved every second of it, and they were on their feet dancing and clapping at the end. However, this again confirmed my preferences for musicals with songs that were made specifically for the production (Mathilda, Wicked, Kinky Boots etc.). Overall though, the singing was of a fairly high quality even if the dancing was a little cheesy. It was nice to witness a time which my parents would have been very familiar with, and it provided some content for our dinner time chats. Overall a decent musical, but I still don’t understand the Olivier award and the rave reviews.


I didn't know what to expect but o my god was I impressed. I knew nothing about The Kinks apart from to shout along to some of their songs on nights out but saw a deal for top price seats for a mere £20.

The musical is currently showing at the Harold Pinter theatre on Panton Street; a beautiful but small theatre with stunning ceilings, candelabras and a stylish bar.

On arrival we found our seats: slap bang in the middle of row F. These are honestly the perfect seats! The first 5 rows are actually small tables with a collection of chairs around them (like something you'd see in a 60's bar) and although for the most part were occupied the back few were left empty for the use of the actors. In between these rows the stage also comes out to row F with a few steps up on each side. As you can imagine the actors utilise this throughout the show so we had to be careful not to trip any of them up.

From the start it was go go go with energetic dances and brilliant actors introducing the band and other members of the story. The musical was well paced, with plenty of songs as the story of The Kinks was told.

The band members also played instruments throughout as did other cast members (guitars, drums, trombones) which really added to the experience.

Overall I was so impressed: a heart warming, fun musical with no hint of cheese.


I’m not a super fan of The Kinks, but of course I can appreciate their music and place in music history. The play works fine incorporating, a lot of the time, a gig vibe instead of trying to make every song fit in the story. The venue itself allows for a more intimate and ‘real’ experience, as the characters move around the stage close to the seats, and the sound is really, really loud. (Apparently not so much in the back, but I was seated in the first rows... I had to ask for earplugs in the interval!)

The very romanticised story goes like most classical plays or films about bands, with the humble beginning, the sensitive (later tormented) genius songwriter, the big amount of women, drugs and alcohol, and a more deep love story for good measure.
It is a little too long, but still fun. I left it happily surprised – although also half-deafened.

With such an amazing back catalogue of songs what could go wrong?? Fortunately nothing!! This is an amazing show & to call it a jukebox musical is a discredit to the brilliant cast, great staging & fantastic script that tells the true story of Ray Davies & the Kinks. It's funny, moving & ultimately uplifting. A must see show which is both a tribute to an iconic musician & a celebration of London. Needless to say the score is faultless & played with panache by the talented cast

I got these tickets as a surprise and although love The Kinks, was a little apprehensive with someone else doing Ray Davies songs. 

Within 5 minutes all my fears were gone - the excellent cast mixed both Kinks classics and new songs in the right style. By the end my whole group were up and dancing! 

If you love one or both of the kinks or musicals - go along and enjoy - you'll have a great evening! 

Thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgic journey through the Kinks songbook with an enthusiastic and entertaining cast.

Loud and lively!

Loved the music and the boys were excellent musicians.

Theatre upgraded out tickets so no complaints.

It definitely felt like I had entered a time warp - returning to the fabulous 60's and hearing all those fantastic songs recorded by the KINKS. A lively and exuberant cast belt out the songs with gusto sometimes a bit too loud - we sat in the middle of the row in front of the stage extension which offered a perfect view of the fantastically entertaining set. 5 stars, would recommend to any music fan. What an evening!

Staff Writer

I absolutely loved it! The music was of courser amazing! The cast worked the stage brilliantly and there were moments whereby I felt that I was at an actual concert. I think that Time Out need to re-visit this one.

As far as musicals go I found that Sunny Afternoon is one that stands out as not your typical musical type which I absolutely loved, it worked brilliantly. Hats off to the cast too. 

I like that the story didn't stretch too far and kept within a small time period allowing to explore the story more. the acting, the singing, the band were all brill! 

Staff WriterStaff Comp

Loved the show - was tapping my feet all the way through! The cast does a really great job multi-tasking through the acting and musical requirements. This would be a highlight for Kinks fans or any rock and roll fans.

Fun fun fun! I was singing and dancing in my seat, a show full of life, laughs and energy.


A fabulous show! Haven't enjoyed a musical this much for a while. When they launch into "You Really Got Me" for the first time, you can't help but tap your feet in your seat. By the end of the show, everyone was up, dancing and singing along. The cast were fabulous and the music excellent. I would 100% recommend this show to anyone who has some appreciation for the music of this time - I wasn't a massive Kinks fan before the show but I really am now!


A really enjoyable show bringing the music of The Kinks to life. I couldn't help but tap my feet and sing along to familiar tunes such as You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night and of course Sunny Afternoon. A really good storyline throughout which was great as I didn't know much about The Kinks. The cast were great especially the guy who plays Dave, he really shone- however in one scene, one of the backing dancers was terribly out of sync with the others and it was really noticeable! If you want a good night out with good music and plenty of laughs and drama, then this is the show for you.

It was a fun night out with lots of music that we all know and love. The theatre was too warm up in the balcony but other than that it was lovely.


Saw this play before it hit the West End.  Great fun, very nostalgic and foot tapping with reasonably intelligent script.  Authenticity spoilt by "Dave" who was obviously miming playing the guitar.  Very much a feelgood show, highlighting the genius of the group.  I left the theatre feeling quite uplifted.


I absolutely loved Sunny Afternoon and it deserves to be mentioned amongst some of the best musicals in the West-End. I didn't know much about The Kinks but was pleasantly surprised to learn some of my favorite music tracks from the swinging 60's actually originated from The Kinks. By the end, I was humming and replaying many songs in my head

The story flowed dreamlessly,  exploring themes of love, struggles, success and failure. The soundtrack was powerful, the dialogue compelling, the acting energetic and the stage set reminiscent of the 60's. I gave it a standing ovation. One of my favourite west-end musicals and great for a swinging night out.


Oh this is a triumph and well worth every penny.It's not often my picky self sees a show and can find no fault. The cast are incredibly talented and use their skills to maximum effect. The music is astounding and as other reviewers have said i challenge you not to tap your foot and wiggle in your seat. I too, was amazed by the amount of songs i knew but had no idea were by The Kinks. I've also just seen Ray Davies at the Brecon Jazz festival and heard his songs straight from the horses mouth. He's no longer a young man but still has the verve and spirit of a skilled lyricist and man of the 60's. Go see Sunny Afternoon very soon as i believe  John Dagleish (Ray Davies), George Maguire (Dave Davies) are leaving the show in the near future. Whilst i'm sure their replacements will be stunning these two had a very special chemistry and will be a tough act to follow.


I've seen this show twice now and I would definitely see it again. After moving to London, I really discovered the music of the Kinks and this musical made me cry in happiness more than a few times; it made me realize how much I love London, just as Ray Davies does (did? who knows now). Anyway. Even if you aren't a big fan of the Kinks, you'll sit there and discover just how many of their songs you already know - and I challenge you to keep your feet still. Not gonna happen. The men playing the band are really talented; John Dagleish (and the rest of the cast) didn't win Olivier Awards last year for nothing! 

Staff Writer

I love the music of The Kinks so I would have been happy if this was a standard jukebox musical. Some would argue it is that but enjoyed the story they wove and was really moved in parts. There was so much I didn't know about them and it made me research their story further afterwards - yes I am that cool. It was a brilliant mix of great singing, fab dancing and costumes and a bit of audience participation in the form of dancing along to their songs at the end. The a cappella 'Days' is a real highlight and brought a tear to my eye. I highly recommend this for anyone, take a friend, take the family, everyone will love it.

Staff Writer

I loved this show. Highly entertaining... a must see for all music lovers!

We all loved it. An extremely good evening out and just what a night out at the theatre should be.

Staff Writer

It's my favourite West End show at the moment. It's like being at a live gig and a musical all at the same time. John Dagleish and George Maguire knocked it out of the park and everyone else quite happily keep up with them too.

I've seen it twice already and I can't wait to see it a third.

Such a great night out - a great british muscial that captures what makes London great. Strong performances recognisable tunes. Well worth getting a table in the stalls if you can

Its a game of two halves. To be honest the first act did not really work for me. Standard band storyline and some real bullshit from one one of the managers about his family history. However , what happens in the second act is remarkable . The show really starts to motor. By the time they hit Lola me and the whole damn audience was on its feet. OK, Its not Les Mis but it is the perfect antidote. I agree with with this review. Its a 3 star show, but its a 5 star night out. Don't fuck about - go !

Went with my wife last night as we had a spare night left in london. In our 60's we always liked the kinks music. Reviews we read were varied but I must say we thoroughly enjoyed the whole show. Pretty raw in places but the whole small theatre ambience lent something special that would not be there in a large theatre. Bit like being in a lounge room. Cast were pretty amazing shopping between roles and instruments. Face pace all the way and some amazing talent on show. Never going to be a classic but great entertainment.

I'll preface my review by saying that I am a Dave Davies rather than a Ray Davies fan, so this necessarily colours what I felt when I saw the play.

If you like your version of the Kinks' story clichéd, cartoonish and told through the eyes of one man (Ray), with an 'overcoming the odds' happy ending at Madison Square Garden under the stewardship of Allan Klein, then this is for you. Unfortunately, it means that we get the poor, tortured Ray version that we've read about before, with him being let down by grasping management, the US Teamsters, and his fellow bandmates, and having to cope with enormous personal and professional pressure. He is the only three-dimensional character in the play, with Pete Quaife coming across as a terrified wimp (although he is given credit for the bass intro to 'Sunny Afternoon'), and Dave Davies coming across as an out-of-control, cross-dressing party animal (which may have been true in the 60's!). I could also have done without the decorative 60's dolly birds prancing round the auditorium (another cliché).

However, what is undeniable is the power of the songs and the music, and, when the four Kinks are playing together, and playing loud, they sound very convincing. The ability of the supporting cast to pick up instruments at the drop of a hat and support them is also very impressive. This lifts it above most of the other 'jukebox musicals' that have appeared over the last few years.

I do, nevertheless, remain mystified as to the omission of 'Death of a Clown' from the play, which Ray co-wrote with Dave after all. We know that he never liked Dave playing it onstage, but it would have been the perfect song to slot in when Dave was saying that he was tired of being 'Dave the Rave'. I would also have like to have seen how 'The Village Green Preservation Society'  and 'Arthur' came about - and I think that going out with 'Arthur' would have been preferable to 'Lola' at Madison Square Garden, as the Kinks were essentially about Englishness, not becoming a triumphant international rock act (although I know they managed that eventually).

I don't usually do musicals and nor do the Hamsptead Theatre.  But this was an exception which certainly rates as Five Star entertainment.  This is due not only to Ray Davies' well known and loved music but also to the band and company who are excellent throughout marvelously energetic and clearly enjoying themselves.  Even the Hampstead matinee regulars get up and dance.  Hindsight provides us with enough witty lines and the songs are well worked in, teasingly developed and sometimes tender.  The theatre may be small which makes the staging difficult but the audience gain from this due to the proximity to the action even at the back of the stalls.  The production makes good use of the space with the cast often making their entrances through the stalls and even seen in the circle in the 70s encore.  This must transfer as it deserves to run and run after selling out at the Hampstead.  

The show is absolutely for lack of the better over used word " Brilliant ". The cast captures not only the essence of the 60's and KinKs big part in that era and beyond too. Ray Davies songs and The Kinks as a band were and still are far more important than many people give them credit for and their music will be studied & played long in to the future when many others will be pushed to the side. He wrote and they performed music with much further depth & character than beyond the perfect 3 minute pop song which they were also masters of as well. This is the kind of musical that will have a West End or Broadway audience of not only those who lived through this era but those who missed it or were too young to have been around for it up on their feet, singing and dancing and leaving the theatre with a smile & an emotional tie to the band and their music they may not have ever knew they had. This is great musical theatre, and is London and the UK's answer to Jersey Boys only better and that already is on West End & Broadway. Need I say more? If there is any justice this musical too will see the lights and bigger stage in the future -  God save Ray Davies, God save the KinKs, God save the Village Green.

Sit back and slip back to the 60's and enjoy a fast-paced and bumpy ride through agents, publishers, family and punch ups to get a feel on Ray Davies' selfie snapshot of the Kinks rise and stumble. The songs say some of it but the cast are energetically convincing and committed and who cares how much it reflects what really happened. If you were there at the time you'll love it and if you weren't then just enjoy tune after tune until Lola gets you on your feet at the end. Great musical theatre - who needs more ?