Book: Chris D’Arienzo
Director: Kristin Hanggi
Reviewer: Joanna Trainor
After its two year stint in the West End finished in November, Rock of Ages is back, for its first UK tour. Though the storyline won’t blow you away, with your air guitar, glowsticks and the best of 80s rock, it’s impossible not to have a great evening.
Hear’Say’s Noel Sullivan possesses some powerful vocals, hitting the high notes, fans of Oliver Tompsett’s original portrayal of Drew will be impressed with. His charm and awkwardness, make him a brilliant choice for the rôle. It’s not surprising that Cordelia Farnsworth won an award for understudy of the year, while covering Sherrie in the West End; she radiates a sweetness that fills the theatre.
Though the cast were on top form, it took a while for the audience to warm up. Rock of Ages is definitely a show that needs interaction, so when Stacee Jaxx puts his hand up for people to sing along to ‘Wanted Dead or Alive,’ and only a couple of voices ring out, Ben Richards does an incredible job to keep the momentum of the song going. The difference from seeing the show in Bromley, compared to at the Shaftesbury Theatre, does beg the question why the tour chose a venue where the theatre-going audience aren’t quite as enthusiastic as needed. However, it’s likely to get the right reaction when it comes to Brighton in August.
You can’t not mention narrator and sound guy Lonny. Stephen Rahman-Hughes is a great mix of comedy, innuendo and his robot dance skills are exceptional. With the original Lonny, Simon Lipkin in the audience, Rahman-Hughes held his own, and had perfect chemistry with Daniel Fletcher’s Dennis Dupree.
The onstage band, all with the perfect hair for head-banging, do an exceptional job playing as Stacee Jaxx’s former group, Arsenal. Bringing the lead guitarist forward to the front of the stage to finish Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ and putting the drummer on the screen at the back, is definitely the right thing to do, to give them the credit they deserve.
If you’ve been practicing your moves to Whitsnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ and singing into your hair brush since the show left town, then seeing the Rock of Ages tour will cure you of any withdrawal symptoms. It has all the leather, cowboy hats, fog masters, strippers and fun, just on a smaller scale. You just need to find a theatre where the audience are as enthusiastic as you are.
Photo: Manuel Harlan | Runs until 21st June