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Meet your new crush, ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ star Olly Dobson

17 March 2021 by Suzy Evans
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Olly Dobson in ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ (Photo by Sean Ebsworth Barnes)

Olly Dobson has a lot to live up to. After all, he’s taking on the iconic role of Marty McFly, one that catapulted Michael J. Fox to stardom and heartthrob status on screen, in the new musical adaptation of Back to the Future.

“I’m really happy that you didn’t mention the word pressure at all,” Dobson says at the end of our conversation, almost anticipating the question of what’s at stake. But even though he knows it’s what’s on everyone’s mind, he’s not letting it affect him. 

“I’m so lucky to also have such a connection to the role because it really relieves the pressure,” he says. “I love it so much. I just want to do a good job. I just want people to really enjoy and love it.”

The musical is scheduled to open this summer at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre, and we caught up with the effortlessly charming Dobson over Zoom to talk about this potentially life-changing moment. 

Book tickets to see Back to the Future at the Adelphi Theatre!

This film cemented Michael J. Fox as a cinematic heartthrob and star, and this is your first big lead role in a West End musical. How do you feel? 

I like to think that I’m prepared for it. I’d like to say that I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this moment for a very long time. I’m just so grateful and I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have come my way. 

I’m really, really happy and really, really fortunate to be in this situation. And I only hope that moving forward to keep holding onto that positivity and that when this show starts, people can just start to see what we’ve been going on about for so many years.

What was it like finding Marty’s singing voice?

I felt I really love singing Marty. He is so grounded in what he sings and he’s so on the front foot, and when he isn’t, it’s really vulnerable for him. And so there were really lovely levels I can play with, and I have loads of different dimensions when it comes to singing his voice. I didn’t want to sound like one guy, and then sing it like a totally different other guy. But I think my love for rock music enabled me to be able to marry those two things together.

Roger Bart and Olly Dobson in Back to the Future The Musical at the Manchester Opera House (Photo by Sean Ebsworth Barnes)

Tell us more about the unconventional love story in this musical, between Marty and his high school-aged mom. What is it like playing that?

It’s fun. It’s really great. Isn’t it wonderful to be playing a storyline where you’re not in love with the other person? I get to walk around the entire stage for two and a half hours giving Lorraine the cold shoulder, and at that moment also trying to comfort her and making sure that she’s also falling in love with another person. This story is so mad. It’s so brilliant. But we really hit on that. We really tried to hit on the comedy. It isn’t your traditional love story.

Have you tried to keep up with the show in lockdown?

I really like to sit on the whole idea that rest is everything. Like the idea that you are just in rest mode. Don’t get me wrong, I sing in the shower every day. And I’ll be honest with you though — no, that’s a lie. I was going to say and play any songs from the show, like the jukebox tunes, but I definitely have.

But you haven’t been actively singing songs from the show?

No. For me, it was a really good opportunity to just actually put things on pause. It’s really about singing it out loud, just having a sing song and making sure that the cobwebs aren’t there and they aren’t building up too much.

How would you describe the show Back to the Future: The Musical in five words?

Electric. Cool. Funny. Thrilling. Explosive.