It’s All or Nothing for Small Faces mod musical creator Carol Harrison

All or Nothing - The Mod Musical. Photo: Phil Weedon

All or Nothing - The Mod Musical. Photo: Phil Weedon - Credit: Archant

The Small Faces were one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and were the epitome of the mod movement.

Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison - Credit: Archant

Now their story, accompanied by their own music, has been brought to life on the live stage.

All Or Nothing - The Mod Musical, named after the band’s chart-topping single, tells the members’ story – all through the eyes of guitarist and singer Steve Marriott.

Marriott, who died in an accident at his home in 1991, was the band’s chief songwriter with bassist Ronnie Lane, who has also since died, and was responsible for penning classics including Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday and Sha-La-La-La-Lee.

The band had a dozen hits between 1965-1969, more than half of them getting into the top 10 and their number one album Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake has become iconic.

Marriott left the band to form Humble Pie; but the rest carried on, recruited Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart and became The Faces.

For show writer, producer and star Carol Harrison (who was in EastEnders), the project to get the musical on stage was a labour of love.

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“They are special to me, especially Steve Marriott. Firstly they came from the same part of East London as I do and for a while my cousin played in a band with Steve and I first met him when I was eight years old.”

The actual process of putting the show together has taken quite a long time and it was a bit of a gamble for Harrison herself.

“The Small Faces influenced loads of musicians like Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene and Steve’s voice was one on of the top voices of the decade. Plus some of their songs were and are quite theatrical.”

Harrison had an agenda.

“I wanted to talk about the 1960s, but without all the sugary stuff we seem to get. Also, I gave myself the challenge of writing a musical which I hadn’t done before.”

The show tells the story of the band in their heyday and isn’t just a collection of songs.

“It’s a play with music. It’s a classic rock and roll story, moving in parts but the boys themselves were all funny. The story is really an older Steve Marriott looking back on his life from when the band starts to them splitting up. I play Kay, Steve’s mum. She was a very sassy woman and they had a close relationship.”

Apparently, the writing took some time.

“The first draft of the script took me six months initially.” Harrison laughs. “We’re now on draft 10.”

The show had been in the West End for a while and has garnered rave reviews.

“It looks as if I was proved right.” Harrison says, smiling. “We started with a short run but we had to extend it as it kept selling out. People were coming back to see it four or five times and there were standing ovations every night.

“Plus we had the best-dressed audiences in London as mods were always particular in their dress – and the motor scooters are great.”

The band got their name from the mod culture and the bands’ self-deprecating humour.

In mod parlance, a face was one of the leaders, someone to look up to. But the members of the band, Marriott, Lane, Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston, later Ian McLagan, were all quite short; hence Small Faces.

Strangely, this gave Harrison – in her producers’ guise – her biggest problem.

“We haven’t gone for sound-a-likes or look-a-likes in the cast. It was important they could sing, but the acting is paramount and they all play live so they’re good musicians. We also, when casting the role of Steve, had to get the attitude.

“But my hardest problem,” she admits with a wry smile, “was the height. Because the guys were so small, we had to have a height restriction of 5ft 8in which cut down on our choices.”

She is thrilled to have Marriott’s daughter, Mollie, as their vocal coach. “We’ve known each other more than 12 years and when I mentioned to her what I was planning she wanted to get involved.”

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical runs September 12-17 at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre. The show is virtually sold out but it’s worth checking for returns.

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