First it was a book, then a hugely successful movie and now Roddy Doyle’s stage adaptation of his own much loved novel and cult hit film, THE COMMITMENTS, is back on tour, playing all this week at the Wales Millennium Centre. 

It’s actually a no-brainer putting this show on stage as it has everything you’d expect from musical theatre, and boy does it deliver on all counts.

Before our review, let’s get reaction from last night’s audience, and as you’ll see, it is a resounding massive thumbs up.


The show is set in a 1980s fictional suburb of Dublin, where an ambitious wheeler-dealer Jimmy Rabbitte (JAMES KILLEEN), is looking for a way to make his big dreams a reality. Music is his passion so he figures thats where he can also make his fortune. Jimmy puts together what he hopes will be the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a number of wannabes before finalising the members of his new band: THE COMMITMENTS. But as any live musician knows, getting a band together never quite goes to plan – especially after a few pints of Guinness!

Some of the band have raw talent while others wouldn’t know Diana Ross and the Supremes from an Iceland Chicken Supreme.

Eventually the band starts to come together all thanks to Joey ‘The Lips‘ Fagan (STUART REID), a gifted trumpeter who offers to give Jimmy a helping hand. He’s also instrumental in getting Deco (BEN MORRIS) into the group as lead singer. There’s no doubt that Deco can sing, but his ego almost matches the power of his incredible voice. He can even sing with a mouth full of chips, now that’s impressive.

Deco is undoubtedly the star of the band, but with his incredible voice and brilliantly annoying ego, he’s also the star of the show, delivering some stand-out vocals. Although I wouldn’t want you to think this isn’t a production filled with talent, because it is. The ‘backing singer‘ girls will leave you breathless and wanting more of their vocal talents.

The Commitments may not be the most professional outfit in the world but eventually they match their self-proclaimed title of ‘The World’s Hardest Working Band‘. Over time, creative differences creep in, the occasional romantic dalliance rocks the boat and you wonder if The Commitments will ever make it big, as Jimmy hopes.

I am a massive fan of the movie and I did wonder if the stage show would be able to capture the raw tension many of us felt in those early days of the 1980s. The movie created something very special, and quite a few stars too, in particular Andrew Strong. But, like the story itself, ego’s got in the way and success for many of the film actors was relatively short lived.

I needn’t have worried. The Commitments on stage is every bit as energetic and passionate as I’d hoped. The singing is outrageously good, which is a relief when you’re handling soul classics like Mustang Sally and Try a Little Tenderness. The band are incredible too, and very much a part of the story.

James makes a very determined and relentless Jimmy and Ben brings the perfect blend of attitude, swagger and talent to Deco. But in a show filled with great music and talented players, look who becomes a bit of a scene stealer – it’s only NIGEL PIVARO, yes, Terry Duckworth from Coronation Street.

Nigel play Jimmy’s ‘da’, and spends most of the show sat in his manky old armchair. But with his superb comic timing and super fast jibes, you can’t help but warm to this genuinely charming man. And before you ask, no he doesn’t sing any of the soul classics featured in the show – well, not many!

I also want to mention RONNIE YORKE who weighs in as a pretty intimidating skinhead security for the band. His performance is both hard and soft, and even when he decks Deco, you can’t help but love him.

The Commitments has a brilliant cast…..

  • Nigel Pivaro – Jimmy’s Da / Caretaker
  • James Killeen – Jimmy
  • Ben Morris – Deco
  • Stuart Reid – Joey
  • Ciara Mackey – Imelda
  • Michael Mahony – Outspan
  • Ryan Kelly – Billy
  • Conor Litten – Dean
  • Guy Freeman – Derek
  • Stephen O’Riain – James
  • Ronnie Yorke – Mickah, Ray
  • Maryann Lynch – Natalie
  • Sarah Gardiner – Bernie

Also including – Joshua BartonAlice CroftJames DeeganColm GleesonCallum Martin and Ed Thorpe

Nigel Pivaro – The Commitments

As you can see in Da’s house above, TIM BLAZDELL has done a fine job with his set design. It’s a collection of spaces which let the performers move around from scene to scene and help keep the action moving. It feels urban and grubby and captures that moment in time perfectly. There’s a lovely scene when Jimmy is auditioning the wannabees for his band. I won’t spoil it but the use of the door is really effective, and very funny.

Roddy Doyle has had his talented hands all over the script for the show, and is clearly all the better for it. It retains all the joy of the original film with a few nice additions for the live production.

But live is where THE COMMITMENTS really wins. At times it feels part musical, part gig, and when they all come together they create something incredibly special which you can’t help but singalong too. Fortunately, we get our chance to break free at the end.

There are something like 20 soul classics in the show and we get our turn to let loose in the final encore. The cast and band take to the stage, we all got on our feet and the energy filled the Donald Gordon theatre like never before.The cast would yell out and we would appropriately respond. Honestly, it was like we were at The Commitments homecoming gig, it was brilliant.

The show is wild and fun with an incredible soundtrack performed live on stage by a hugely talented cast and band. We’ve read what some critics have claimed about the show in the past, suggesting that 20 songs is too much for one night. Seriously? How can 20 of the greatest songs of all time be too much for one show. We say, keep bringing them on.

In a show packed with great songs and some superb one-liners, THE COMMITMENTS is a 100 per cent guaranteed fun night out that will have you singing your heart out and dancing out of your seats!

It’s at the Wales Millennium Centre through to Saturday 27th May. Performances are at 7:30pm with a 2:30pm matinee on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets start at £19 and you can get yours HERE.

you can also take a look at our original show feature – HERE.

We’ve put together a fantastic The Commitments playlist of songs linked to the show, take a listen below…..