Retroist Back to the Future Podcast

5 Big Questions about Back to the Future: The Musical

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Great Scott! With 2015 fast upon us, it was announced this week that Back to the Future, the 1985 megahit that led to one of the most successful film trilogies of all time, will be hitting London’s West End in time for the film’s thirtieth anniversary next year. While there are lots of screen-to-stage adaptations that flop at the theatrical box office, Back to the Future seems uniquely suited for success.

Film director Robert Zemeckis and producer Bob Gale, the original creators of the series and co-writers of the films, will be working on the book for this adaptation along with British theater director Jamie Lloyd. As for the songs, original composer Alan Silvestri will be working on the music with Glen Ballard, co-writer and producer of Alanis Morissette’s brilliant Jagged Little Pill album. But there’s even better news fans of the movie, as all the memorable songs from the film like Huey Lewis & The News’ “The Power of Love,” as well as “Earth Angel,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Mr. Sandman,” will also be worked into the production.

However, there are still a lot of things Back to the Future fans have been left wondering about the production. Here are the five big questions we can’t wait to see answered!

Who will play Marty McFly?

The fish-out-of-water role made famous by Michael J. Fox is the heart and soul of the film and so integral that the filmmakers replaced actor Eric Stoltz, who was originally cast in the film, after five weeks of filming when the movie wasn’t gelling. Fox’s role is iconic, and filling his puffy vest and Calvin Klein underwear might prove to be a tall order, but the musical’s creative team is certain to devote their energies to getting it right. We’re hoping actor AJ LoCascio, who voiced Marty in Telltale’s Back to the Future video game series, is on the short list. Not only does he sound virtually identical to Fox, but he also can play guitar!

Will the show still be set in America?

The answer to this is probably “yes,” but who can be sure? The film is incredibly popular internationally and, with the musical opening in the United Kingdom, the creative team might want to shake things up and set Hill Valley in England. Our main reason for hoping it remains set in America is mostly because it would be pretty hard to remember the speed the DeLorean has to hit to travel through time if 88 miles per hour becomes 142 kilometers per hour. But, to be honest, the idea of Biff Tannen with a cockney British accent does sound awesome.

Will there be any reference to the sequels?

The trilogy is arguably one of the best-written three-piece stories to be brought to the screen, but the first film also stands along excellently by itself. Back to the Future: The Musical is likely to be primarily based on the first film, but will there be any reference to the two successful and popular films in the franchise? The hoverboard sequences in Parts II and III make up some of the most suspenseful and fun moments in the series. While there may not seem like a lot of opportunities to bring them into the fold, there may be some opportunities for at least a passing mention. For example, when Doc Brown of 1955 is needling Marty about the future (“Ronald Reagan? The actor!”), it’d be easy to add a line like, “Let me guess, you also have portable boards that hover over the ground.”

Will Christopher Lloyd have a cameo?

If anyone from the original cast is to be involved in the musical, it should be Christopher Lloyd. Even if he isn’t playing Doc Brown, Lloyd is a veteran of the stage who has never before appeared on the West End. How brilliant would it be for him to have a cameo in this new venture for the Back to the Future franchise? Perhaps a featured role as Mr. Strickland, the school principal who labels Marty a slacker!

Will the DeLorean Fly?

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” The line is instantly recognizable as being from the film and was so influential that Reagan quoted it in the 1986 State of the Union. While there are certain to be unique challenges in recreating the effect of time travel in a performing space, we’re most interested in seeing if the film’s big finale, when the DeLorean takes off toward the audience, is reproduced on stage. Here’s hoping!

Caseen Gaines is a pop culture historian. He is currently working on a book about the Back to the Future trilogy that will be published next year by Plume. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at and

Caseen Gaines

Caseen Gaines' upcoming book, A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic, will be released this fall from ECW Press. His first book, Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon, was the 2012 recipient of Independent Publisher Book Award's silver medal in the popular culture category. His writing has received the praise and recognition of journalists from The A.V. Club, Gawker, Ain't It Cool News, The Advocate, The Village Voice, In Touch Weekly, and a host of other publications. He is a high school English teacher and the co-founder of Hackensack Theatre Company, a non-profit in New Jersey. He posts regularly on Facebook (

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