'The Commitments' to bring Irish soul to London stage

05:00 AM, Apr 23, 2013

Irish novelist Roddy Doyle at launch of his coming stage musical of 'The Commitments' in London. Tim P. Whitby Getty Images/


Written By by Maria Puente, USA TODAY

It was a hit book and a hit movie about a memorably scrappy Irish soul band, and soon it’s going to be stomping all over the London stage in a new musical.

The Commitments, Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel about a raucous bunch of working-class Dubliners who stumble their way to cover-band success, was made into a 1991 movie but Doyle wasn’t much interested in doing a stage version. Until now, the Associated Press reports.

Doyle has written a stage version, Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments, opening in October. It’s set in 1986, the year Doyle wrote the book about rough-and-tumble Dublin, a city later transformed by years of the “Celtic Tiger” boom and then by debt-driven bust.

Producers, who announced the show at a press launch today, promised a show of soul classics. Director Jamie Lloyd says the cast is mostly Irish and under 21; they will all play their own musical instruments.

Many of them have never been in a play before,” Lloyd said. “There are a couple who’ve never seen a play before.”

So what took so long? Commitments was such a success, Doyle says, he needed a break from it, and besides, he doesn’t like musicals.

In the house I live in, if The Sound of Music comes on, all the male members, including the dogs, stand up and walk out,” jokes Doyle. “And the female members stay and cry.”

But Doyle, an Irish literary star, author of nine novels and winner of the Booker Prize, says he changed his mind after seeing the Frankie Valli musical Jersey Boys, in which the music drives the story.

What I loved about it was, the songs were terrific, but the songs didn’t interrupt the story and the story didn’t interrupt the songs,” Doyle told AP.

Alas, the cast of the movie won’t be in the stage version; after all, it’s been more than 20 years.

We’re all mortal,” Doyle says, “and I think most of them accept the fact that they’re lacking in hair.”