Book: Chris D’Arienzo
Director: Kristin Hanggi
Reviewer: Francesca Parker
The musical sensation Rock of Ages, is causing a stir at the Liverpool Empire this week. The award-winning, smash-hit production transports the audience back to The Bourbon Room in the late 80’s on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles when sex, drugs, and rocking out were something of the norm.
Although Rock of Ages conventionally employs weak and unoriginal storyline, telling a typically complex young love story of protagonists Drew (Noel Sullivan) and Sherrie (Cordelia Farnworth) and the timely downfall of rock God Stacee Jaxx (Ben Richards) it parodies its own cliché conformity to the genre of musical theatre. Lonny (Steven Rahman-Hughes) narrates the entirety of the show and manages incredibly well to entertain the audience throughout the almost clumsy script, injecting comedy in otherwise hard to fill musical pauses. Criticisms aside, Rock of Ages is just a cavalcade of timeless music, including Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive, Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ among many others.
Sullivan, as Drew, has certainly transformed from his days as an ITV winner of Popstars band Hear’Say to a full on rock star. He displays a vocal range and power in his performance that is indisputably show-stopping. Footballers’ Wives star, Richards in the rôle of Stacee Jaxx is phenomenal and undoubtedly, for the female members of the audience, is the most lusted over man on stage. The chemistry between Dennis Dupree (Daniel Fletcher) and Lonny (Rahman-Hughes) climaxes with the number I Can’t Fight This Feeling, a true exposé of their showmanship and natural aptitude for entertaining. These lead performances combined with the sensational support of the ensemble, the jaw dropping musical direction of Pierce Tee and his live band certainly deserved the standing ovation it received.
For those of you who have a predisposed aversion to crude jokes, sexually suggestive behaviour, scantily clad women and the general shenanigans of the 80s rock era – this show may push the boundaries. Additionally due to its very nature it may be noted that Rock of Ages is unsuitable for young children. That aside, it is most certainly an evening of entertainment that almost everyone could thoroughly enjoy.
Often with a musical production you never seem to find what you’re looking for, and you can feel left empty handed however with Rock of Ages the answer is simple: If you’re a rocker, a roller and everything in between Rock of Ages is Nothin’ But a Good Time.
Photo Manuel Harlan | Runs until 26th July.