Sunny Afternoon - London

A new musical telling the story of The Kinks.

Olivier Nominee George Maguire on Jamming in The Kinks Musical Sunny Afternoon & His Next Rock God Dream Role

Sunny Afternoon, the Edward Hall-directed jukebox musical salute to the legendary British band The Kinks, was just nominated for five Olivier Awards, but arguably none of its nods is more deserving than the one for George Maguire. Maguire plays plays Dave Davies, irrepressible brother to Kinks firebrand, Ray. Having previously played T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan in a different musical, the likable Maguire chatted to about bringing real people to life while rocking out.

The often-extended Sunny Afternoon seems like a great job for you. How are you holding up?
Well, I had a fractured elbow recently through falling off a bike, so I was slightly one-armed for a while, but it was fine. What’s great is our show keeps getting extended—I’d love it to run for another 10 to 20 years. We’ll see.

As the show’s resident bad boy, Dave’s a pretty amazing part. Is it fun to play?
It is. If you read his autobiography, you find this really lovely, open, warm person who’s also quite complex. He’s battled throughout life with his hedonism and really went for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, which he had at a very young age. Of course, what happened to him doesn’t happen to a lot of people, so that’s been interesting for me to play.

He’s crucial to the story of the show, as well.
Yes, musically Dave was very important to the sound of The Kinks; he is a lot of the spirit of The Kinks. You might say that [his brother] Ray was the brains whereas Dave had this raw uncontrollable spirit, which makes every night electric for me.

How long have you been involved with the show?
From our three workshops through to the [off-West End] run last year at the Hampstead and now to the West End. It’s quite rare and special to be able to see a piece through from the beginning. I still remember the phone call where I was asked, “Would you like to do a workshop of the story of The Kinks—and we’re starting in a week!” [Laughs.]

Is it tricky in any way given that you’re playing Dave Davies whereas the show was actually the brainchild of his brother Ray—especially since the two men haven’t always gotten along?
It was Ray’s initial idea to do a musical of the band’s story, and he’d been working on it for years with [playwright] Joe Penhall. But what’s important is that when Dave came to see [the show], he felt Ray’s telling of their story was fair and balanced and also a celebration. Ray in no way has left his brother out of the story, so it’s about them and the band and the struggles that they went through—and the music.

What was it like to meet Dave?
It was classic: I was called out from my dressing room where there were a lot of people to see us and there he was and he snogged me and I snogged him back! [Laughs.] He was like, “Hey, man, lovely to meet you, come here,” without any handshaking or a polite hello. It was a hilarious moment.

You previously played T. Rex’s Marc Bolan in the musical, 20th Century Boy, so you’re doing pretty well on the rock dude front.
I’ve always been a natural character actor, so it’s quite nice to be given the challenge of having to be faithful to a real person—not to do impressions but to try and find the essence of who they were. In the case of Bolan or Dave, to portray that person in front of people who knew or loved them and have that be accepted and maybe move people is incredibly rewarding. I’ve played two rock stars in the last few years, so bring on the next one!

Well, they say things come in threes: any idea who would most rock your world next?
Wow! Do you know if I could ever have a go at playing Freddie Mercury, that would be a big one. He would just be the ultimate.

I have to ask: you’re not the same George Maguire who starred in the original London cast of Billy Elliot a decade ago, right?
No, though after seeing Billy Elliot, I wish I could say yes! It’s astounding what the kids who play Billy in that show do, but that George Maguire isn’t me; I imagine he’d be a few years younger than I am but we've not met.

Do you ever think about joining one of London’s long-running shows just to see what that side of musical theater life is like?
The thing is I don’t want to do the 10th version of something that’s been going for ages. I want to be a part of something that’s as original as possible.

Do you think Sunny Afternoon delivers even if, for whatever reason, you may not know who the Kinks were?
I’ve spoken to countless people who said they didn’t know the story going in and that afterwards they were exhilarated about life and the ‘60s and that they had been moved. The great thing is it’s a good story with great characters and amazing live music, so anyone who comes to it should find something to like. Or maybe love.