Back in 1976 record producer Jeff Wayne (best known at the time for his work with teen idol David Essex) was given a copy of HG Wells?seminal ?ar of the Worlds?by his father Jerry with a view to reinterpreting the timeless story of alien invasion as a musical. Wayne Junior was captivated by the story and two years later the fruits of his lengthy labours were unveiled in the form of a sprawling, epic double album narrated by Richard Burton and featuring the vocal talents of Essex, Phil Lynott, Julie Covington, Justin Hayward. The album was an international smash hit, spawned several hit singles and became a bona fide phenomenon. Even then Wayne Junior harboured a dream whereby his musical vision would become a living, breathing stage musical. It took nearly thirty years for the technology to become available to make the enterprise even a remote possibility. But in 2006 it finally happened and the stage version finally made its debut, gently tweaked and updated for a modern sensibility and here? the visual record of that astounding achievement, released as a fabulous 2 disc DVD boasting a glorious DTS mix and a bagful of handy extras.
Watching ?ar of the Worlds?it? easy to see both why the story has become so renowned and also why it took so long for the musical to make it to the stage. The themes of the story are endlessly fascinating; Mankind routed and ravaged by hostile alien aggressors, it? a theme which was new and daring in the Victorian age when Wells?novel first appeared and science-fiction has been trading off the idea ever since. The story is fast and furious, at once utterly terrifying and entirely plausible. What could be more frightening a prospect than the idea of humanity brought to its knees by an infinitely more powerful alien intelligence? Wayne? pounding, driving ?ve of the War?leads the listener (and now, finally, the viewer) into a brutally-realistic depiction of the first interstellar war, with Earth as the devastated battleground.
Here in the 21st century ?ar of the Worlds?comes alive on stage in ways it could never have done before. What could have been a dry, lifeless concert performance by the massive orchestra, conducted by Wayne himself, is turned into a visual tour de force courtesy of some stunning on-stage visuals protected. After a moody but not-entirely convincing prequel sequence, where the Martians plot their invasion from their dying planet, Burton, as on record, narrates the proceedings, courtesy of an eerie animated disembodied head suspended across the stage. Stunning images flash across the screen; the alien capsules exploding from Mars, the first attack by the heat-ray belching Tripods, the destruction of the noble Thunder Child, the spread of the lethal Red Weed across the planet. It? all there and more, with a full-sized Tripod creature straddling the stage and a dazzling light and smoke show overwhelming the auditorium. Hayward appear on stage to sing ?orever Autumn?and the updated cast include tenor Russell Watson as the fevered Reverend Nathaniel and Alexis James as the deluded Artilleryman with his dreams of a ?rave New World?
Musically ?ar of the Worlds? born into an age of disco and punk, has more than stood the test of time. This colourful stage version presents it as it? never been seen or heard before and really is a must-have for anyone who? ever thrilled to Wayne? original epic score. The musical? on tour again in 2007 and one you?e seen this marvellous disc you?l be first in the queue for tickets.
THE DISCS: Recorded on high-definition video the picture and sound quality is incredible even on bog-standard software. The one-disc version includes a brief interview with Wayne and some behind-the-scenes stuff and the second disc has a surprisingly-candid tour feature, more interviews, rehearsal footage and much more. Go on, give your speaks a work-outz/p>]]>