Former Eastenders star turns story of Manor Park rock band Small Faces into a West End show
PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:34 15 January 2018
A former EastEnders star is bringing the turbulent true story of one of east London’s most famous rock bands to the West End.
All or Nothing is based on the story of Small Faces, one of the defining bands of the Mod movement despite being together for just four years.
It takes its name from the band’s 1966 chart-topper and is written and directed by Carol Harrison, who has had a connection to the band from a young age.
She first met frontman Steve Marriott when she was just eight years old, when he visited her house as her cousin played in a band with him.
“I grew up in Upton Park, and my cousins lived in Manor Park, just round the corner from Steve,” she said.
“He was the epitome of Mod for me. It was clear that if I was writing something about Mods then it should be their style, their music.”
That research led to Carol bringing the “classic rock and roll story” of Small Faces to the stage.
Steve met fellow founder member Ronnie Lane in 1965 at the J60 Music Bar, a now long-gone music shop in High Street North, Manor Park.
They recruited their friends Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston to join their band and rehearsals began at The Ruskin Arms, a pub just a few hundred metres further along High Street North that belonged to Jimmy’s parents.
Soon, they were signed by Decca Records and released their debut single, Whatcha Gonna Do About It, the same year, reaching the top 20.
In 1966, Jimmy left the band and was replaced by Ian McLagen, and the first single released by the new line-up, Sha-La-La-La-Lee, peaked at number three in the UK singles chart.
The band rapidly rose in popularity, becoming regulars on Top of the Pops, but after a financial dispute split with Decca and signed with the newly established Immediate label.
Success in both the singles and album charts followed, but the band came to an abrupt end in 1968 after Steve quit the group.
He continued to make music, both with other bands and as a solo artist, until his death in a house fire in 1991.
Carol, who is perhaps best known for her role as Tiffany Mitchell’s mum Louise Raymond in EastEnders, will be starring in the play herself as Steve’s mum Kay Marriott.
“I met her several times when I was researching the play,” she explained. “I also spoke to Steve’s sister, also called Kay, and his daughter Mollie, who’s a vocal coach on the show.”
She admitted that it was “very difficult” to cast the band, as they needed people who were both talented musicians and actors.
“Another thing was that we needed people who were small, because the band were all under 5ft 6,” she explained.
“We’ve got Chris Simmons, who used to be in The Bill, playing older Steve Marriott, and the young band, they’re just amazing.”
And at an earlier stage of the show’s development, it featured one of Canning Town’s most famous sons portraying one of Manor Park’s biggest stars.
“We did some try-outs, we did some excerpts from it on the beach in Brighton in 2013, and we had Danny Dyer doing the part of Steve Marriott,” Carol explained.
The show has embarked on three national tours since debuting in 2016, with that success playing a part in bringing it to the West End.
“A lot of people who I went to school with have come to the show,” said Carol, who attended the now-demolished Harold Road School.
“They’ve said, ‘do you remember me’, and we have a great reminisce about 1967. That’s been fantastic, a real bonus.”
All or Nothing - The Mod Musical is at the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street from Tuesday, February 6 until Sunday, March 11.
Tickets cost between £19.50 and £80 and are available from allornothingmusical.com