Producers had recently attempted to boost box-office takings by marketing the show as The Rod Stewart Musical. Based on the rock star's chart hits, Tonight's the Night opened at the Victoria Palace in November 2003, and despite a poor reception from London critics, proved more popular than many critically well-received musicals. The acclaimed Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate lasted only ten months at the Palace. The venue will host the premier of Billy Elliot—The Musical in the spring of next year.
Tonight's the Night, written and directed by Ben Elton, is one of a string of "tribute" shows based on the back catalogue of rock stars and pop groups — a format started by the hit Mamma Mia!, which features songs by ABBA.
In Tonight's the Night hits such as "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," "Maggie May" and "Hot Legs" are woven into a Faustian story about a car mechanic called Stu (Tim Hower) who sells his soul to be "as cool as Rod Stewart." The show, which will go on a UK-wide tour in 2005, is survived in the West End by We Will Rock You— also written by Ben Elton — which features hits by the rock band Queen.