Book: Chris D’Arienzo
Director: Nick Winston
Arrangements and Orchestrations: Ethan Popp
Choreographer: Nick Winston
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
An unrecognisable Strictly Come Dancing champ, Kevin Clifton, dons a dodgy ‘80s wig and some even dodgier threads as fading rock star Stacee Jaxx, in Rock of Ages, Chris D’Arienzo’s fantastic, feel-good, fun musical.
1987, Los Angeles. Aspiring rock star Drew Boley (Luke Walsh) is working in the Sunset Strip bar The Bourbon Room. There he falls for small town girl Sheree (Jodie Steele) fresh off the bus from Kansas. While the two lovebirds’ romance looks to be on the up, the same can’t be said for the bar where they both work. Property developers have their eyes on this prime piece of real estate, and while the fight goes on for its survival, Drew and Sherrie’s relationship might just be headed for disaster too, thanks to larger than life rock god Stacee Jaxx (Kevin Clifton).
This isn’t Sondheim or Lloyd Webber or Andrew Lloyd Sondheim as they say in the show, but who thought it would be? Rock of Ages has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, knowingly breaking the fourth wall to get the audience firmly on its side from the start. It’s a larger than life, cheesier than Camembert romp through the greatest ‘hair metal’ hits of the 1980s, a piece of escapist fun to chase the winter, spring, summer and autumn blues away. It’s simply an exemplary piece of pure, joyous entertainment.
Whilst Clifton is undoubtedly the box office draw, and a revelation vocally, this truly is an ensemble piece with an absolute dream of a cast. A cast, in its entirety, talented from their heads to their toes. A cast who put their hearts and souls into making this the most irresistible party in town. The always fantastic Lucas Rush deserves his place centre stage as narrator, Lonny – he is an utter joy, a fine comic actor, and an even finer singer. Luke Walsh as good guy Drew has the most fantastic voice and a fine future ahead of him. Jodie Steele is an excellent Sheree and Zoe Birkett gets to show off her magnificent vocals. TV and musical theatre veteran Kevin Kennedy is a loveable Dennis Dupree and Adam Strong and Andrew Carthy provide high camp comedy as German father and son property developers Hertz and Franz Klinemann.
Rock of Ages cracks along at a blistering pace from curtain up to curtain down, delivers laughs by the bucket load and some of the finest vocals and musicianship you are likely to see on any stage. Guaranteed to lift the spirits – what more could anyone want.
Runs until 26 January 2018 | Image: Contributed