Review Rock of Ages

18
July
2019

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Review Rock of Ages at The Mayflower

1987: The Sunset Strip. Aspiring actress Sherrie, straight off the bus from rural Kansas, meets Drew outside the Bourbon Room, where he works behind the bar whilst dreaming of becoming a rock star.

Their first date is followed by a series of misunderstandings and poor judgements as the pair are caught up in the rock and roll lifestyle of the City of Angels.

The couple’s tale is told to the backdrop of change on the Strip as dastardly German developer, Hertz Klinemann (Vas Constanti) comes to town with the aim of cleaning up LA and ridding it of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

It’s clear the show has a cult following; before curtain-up I hear people around me animatedly discussing the various characters and their past incarnations. I know little about the production other than a vague recollection of the underwhelming 2012 film adaptation (which the show does an entertaining job of snubbing), so it’s with an open mind that I wait for the show to begin.

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Bright lights flash over the audience and reveal a set made up of stacked Marshall speakers and scaffold pipes. In the first few minutes we’re greeted with crowd-pleasers including We Built This City and Cum On Feel the Noize.

Lonny, the Bourbon Room stagehand played by the hilarious Lucas Rush, immediately addresses the audience, beginning a steady stream of heckling and audience interaction throughout the production, always to raucous laughter.

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Rush continues to break the fourth wall as he acts as narrator, at one point telling Drew to stop worrying, he’s just a performer in a musical… We particularly enjoy when Lonny produces a ‘Musicals for Dummies’ book at the end of Act 1, while he playfully mocks the typical musical theatre troops – “I love jazz hands!”

For tonight, the role of Drew is performed by the understudy, Joshua Dever, though we’d never have known it as he handles the part marvellously. Jodie Steele as Sherrie is a phenomenal lead, and both their voices are really suited to belting out the glam rock numbers.

Be prepared to see Kevin Clifton – fresh from his 2018 Strictly Come Dancing win with Stacey Dooley – in a new light, as he takes on the role of womanizing rock frontman, Stacee Jaxx. It’s fun to see him get into the comedy of the role, though he also earns an appreciative whoop from the audience during the curtain call when he pulls out a few signature Latin steps.

The cast as a whole have brilliant comic timing; notable performers include Rhiannon Chesterman as Regina, the city planner turned protest-spearhead who galvanises the inhabitants of the Strip to fight back against the demolition of their historic home. Franz Klinemann, played by Andrew Carthy, has everyone in stitches with his camp rendition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and Kevin Kennedy as Bourbon Room owner, Dennis, completes a fantastic comedy duo with Rush.

The ensemble dancers and on-stage band heighten the already-electric atmosphere, and we’re all out of our seats and singing along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing as the show closes.

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If you’re looking for a musical chock full of rock classics, which doesn’t take itself at all seriously and whose cast you’re convinced are having the time of their lives, Rock of Ages is for you… though perhaps don’t take the kids.

Running until 20th July

Beccy Conway