Book: Chris D’Arienzo
Director: Kristin Hanggi
Reviewer: Jay Nuttall
Rock of Ages landed at the Manchester Palace this week as it starts it’s journey on its first ever UK Tour.
While the plot is not the most exciting that musical theatre has to offer and Chris D’arienzo’s script needs tightening up in places, this new cast ofRock of Agespromises to treat its audiences to a good night out and a chance to claim their free air guitars in style.
Set in the ‘mid to late 80’s’ this energetic rock show is set right at the heart of the action on LA’s Sunset Strip. Throw in a love story, a thrusting rock singer, a German developer trying to ruin their vibe, some scantily clad girls and a myriad of other over the top characters and you find yourself wrapped up in the atmosphere and carried with the cast on their journey of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Noel Sullivan gives a stand out performance as wannabe rock god Drew. His charming portrayal and impressive vocals really has the audience rooting for him. Cordellia Farnworth as Sherrie has an equally impressive voice and together they add the warm and fuzzy element to an otherwise power ballad bashing show. Ben Richards as Stacey Jaxx shows us just how strong his inner Rock God is, though you do feel like he could have a little more to do given the audience reaction every time he is on stage.
On press night the rôle of Lonny was played by Nathan Amzi due to Stephen Rahman-Hughes being injured. Amzi was obviously comfortable to be back in this rôle and with his comic timing, quick ad-libs and enough energy to blow the roof off, Manchester were in for a treat. His scenes with Daniel Fletcher (Dennis Dupree) were full of fun and both actors had the audience hanging on their every move.
There are strong scenes with Jessie May as Regina and German Developers Hertz and Franz played by Jack Lord and Cameron Sharprespectively. Rachel McFarlene as Justice has some power house vocals but again isn’t really given enough stage time.
The ensemble really make this show and barely have time to catch their breath with their multitude of characters and costume changes with some brilliant cameo’s from Rakesh Boury and Tom Andrew Hargreaves. The choreography by Kelly Devine finds the right line between being overtly sexual and just plain impressive.
On Tuesdayevening they did not seem to have had enough tech time to make the sound levels right and at times this caused a huge problem. The charm of Rock of Ages is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously as a musical and embraces it’s rock concert style. However, if the sound team can’t support the actors in this they are left hanging and have to push almost too hard to be heard. Hopefully this will be rectified fast and be perfect for all future venues.
This show should be given at least four stars but due to things being not quite ready yet they can’t all be given. As this is no fault of the highly energetic and obviously hard working cast it is a shame, and one hopes their sound team step up their game sharpish to match the talent on stage.
PhotoManuel Harlan | Runs until Sat 10th May