After reading a variety of mixed reviews prior to attending, I was intrigued to see what was actually in store regarding Rock Of Ages the musical. I had no idea what to expect, though wasn't left disappointed.
I must firstly express the fact that it is vital for one to read the synopsis before deciding to indulge on such a musical. The content is definitely only suitable for a mature audience, which I would probably place as 16+. With countless sexual innuendos, numerous scenes featuring the well known sport of pole dancing and crude actions and humour throughout, it's certainly one to not see with your kids or nan!
The story embarks upon the journey of an uptown girl named Sherrie, leaving her hometown of Kansas as an attempt at starting a new life as an actress. A city boy (born and raised in South Detroit, Michigan) called Drew, or as he prefers to be known, Wolfgang Von Colt, works in the Bourbon Room, a bar and club on the Sunset Strip. While both desperately clutching at their dreams of stardom, their aspirations develop from hollywood performer and wannabe rockstar, to somewhat more realistic goals, incorporating the lessons they've learnt and the love for each other that inevitably formed.
With a threat of demolition looming upon the Bourbon Room, the overly egotistical rock-god Stacee Jaxx is encouraged to play at the last show there, as one last glimmer of hope against defeat. Narrating the whole ordeal, is a hilarious character called Lonny who has the audience in stitches within seconds. As the story unravels, we meet various other parts that add to the plot, including the blossoming relationship of Regina and Franz, in which their number is just fabulous (particularly the unitards). Though it's a traditional, and therefore predictable, plotline, this show has turned it into something new- a refreshing watch among the arguably 'snowflake' culture of society today.
Being a jukebox musical, the show is built around a number of classic 80s rock songs, including 'We Build This City' and 'The Final Countdown'. In a rather ingenious way, fitting with the style of the ensemble, there is no need for them to be methodically integrated, but instead they're dropped in with perfect comedic timing and a vigorous sense of rock and roll. Undoubtedly, the finale being Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'' will have you up on your feet, belting out the tune creating an electric atmosphere that ripples throughout the room.
It becomes apparent from the beginning moments that it is a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, and thrives off embracing the rock-n-roll lifestyle, encouraging us to do so too. Smashing the fourth wall, there are a number of audience interaction scenarios, with one being the ongoing gags made at the expense of 'Bill'- one (un)lucky soul sat in the front row. These panto-esque additions bring a new dynamic to the show that is rarely expressed through other well-known musicals, yet conducted in a way that allows the production to remain on the musical side of things.
Professional dancer and Strictly Come Dancing winner of 2018, Kevin Clifton, took on the unpopular role of the egotistical Stacee Jaxx himself. Often we see the 'big names' take the publicity for a tiny snippet in the show, but here, Kev played a crucial part. Not only adopting the character in a way that incorporated his acting and incredible dance skills, his lesser known singing talent was revealed too.
Of course, the whole cast did an absolutely fantastic job, but I just want to mention a few standout mentions for me. Jodie Steele, previously known for being in the award winning Heathers, has such a beautiful voice and implements into the role of Sherrie, one that seems vastly different from that in Heathers, just presenting her sheer versatility when taking on varying parts. The character of Justice, the strip club owner, is played by Zoe Birkett, former Pop Idol contestant and now star on stage. From the second she started singing, I had goosebumps. She demonstrates some of the most immaculate voice control I've ever seen and will genuinely leave you stunned in amazement: it becomes immediately obvious that the stage was made for her. Lonny, the narrator, played by Lucas Rush, also did a great job at providing the humour, keeping us belly-laughing throughout the whole experience. Again, I must say, the whole cast were brilliant, and without each individual talent, the show wouldn't be the same.
Amid the scantily clad ladies and wannabe rockstars draped in leather, this is a ridiculously fun night out for those deemed old enough to experience it. If you're able to park your morals aside for a while, understand that it's set in the 80s and have a little bit of fun, then it should have you rocking (pun intended) with laughter.