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A new Commitments and a familiar face

We spoke to writer Roddy Doyle and Nigel Pivaro, star of the newly-revived production of The Commitments, coming to UK theatres from this month

Nigel Pivaro and James Killeen in domestic luxury...    Pic: Ellie Kurtz
Nigel Pivaro and James Killeen in domestic luxury... Pic: Ellie Kurtz

The Commitments are back, and no one could be happier than its creator, Irish writer Roddy Doyle.

“The original stage show, in 2013,” he says, “was a brilliant experience from my point of view. It stayed in the West End for over two years then had a successful tour.”

The musical has started a new, nine-month tour of the UK and Ireland with Nigel Pivaro – best-known as Coronation Street's not-terribly-lovable rogue Terry Duckworth back in the 1980s-2000s – will take the pivotal role of Da, Jimmy Rabbitte’s father, while Andrew Linnie, sax player Dean in the original West End production and then Jimmy Rabbitte himself on tour, will direct.

The show's first North West stop is the Liverpool Empire (April 17 – 22), then Blackpool Opera House (May 1-6), Venue Cymru, Llandudno (May 29-June 3), Manchester Opera House (June 5-10) and Leeds Grand (June 19-24).

Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle

Roddy isn't counting his chickens but, if the reception to this latest production is anything like the way it was greeted a decade ago ("A sweet-soul, solid-gold, five-star blast.” and it “touched the sublime” and was “unstoppable fun” according to reviews).

Roddy has resisted the temptation to update the action. “The vibrancy is still there, but so is the tension caused by lack of communication. For instance, will Deco, the obnoxious lead singer, turn up on time? These days, you’d track him down on your mobile in no time at all. But there wasn’t that option in the late 1980s. And I chose 1960s music – Motown and Memphis soul – because at the time it felt timeless. Thirty-five years later, I was right.”

Starring as Da, Nigel Pivaro, now 62, at first seems an unlikely choice – it's his first live theatre in two decades; but also the perfect choice, for Da is little more than an older version of Terry Duckworth...

He is certainly enthusiastic about the prospect: “What’s not to love about it? I’ve always loved the story and the music, and it means I get to spend nine months going up and down the country, and I’ll get to stretch my acting muscles again on stage. In a way it’s heralding the fact that I’m back in the business.”

Having worked mainly as a journalist for the past 15 years, Nigel hasn’t been on stage since 2003, when he toured with former EastEnders star John Altman in Bouncers.

Nigel’s return to the stage was supposed to happen in 2020, but we all know why it didn't. After Covid came another postponement, last year, but this time it's really happening: "Here we are at the starting point, tantalisingly close, and I’m really excited about it,” he says.

The actor is modest about being in the new tour: “The show, the story and the music are the real stars. The songs are a major factor in its success, of course, along with the skill in which the music and the story are woven together without ever seeming to be ‘Oh, here’s an excuse to sing another great song’.”

A return to acting wasn’t in his cards until a chance meeting in 2019 with writer Jim Cartwright – with whom he had worked on ...Little Voice in 2000. Cartwright asked when he would be getting back into acting, and Nigel realised he missed it. A radio role and a few voiceovers and other work later, he's ready to get back on stage.

"I'm looking forward to theatres full of happy punters having a great night out and really getting into the show, the story and the joy of it. I’m sure they’ll go away feeling uplifted.”



More info and full tour dates here

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