★★★ | Rock Of Ages
The Bourbon Room is the hottest club on the Sunset Strip, being the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll excess. Run by Dennis and Lonny, the club finds itself under threat from an over-eager property developer and so tries to raise money by staging a farewell gig by Arsenal, the biggest rock band around, fronted by the charismatic Stacee Jaxx. Meanwhile, bar tender Drew craves to be on stage and Sherrie, who is just a small-town girl, arrives in LA to chase her dreams. Drew and Sherrie fall in love, but neither quite say it, so when Stacee Jaxx comes between them and the club is about to be pulled down, can Rock ‘n’ Roll win through?
This jukebox musical was crammed full with a truckload of guilty pleasure soft rock classics, including “We Built This City”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “Just Like Livin’ in Paradise”, “Here I Go Again”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”, with the musical numbers coming thick and fast, accompanied by the live band a scantily clad ensemble.
Ben Richards, as Stacee Jaxx, was criminally underused, but spent most of his time making the audience swoon as he stripped to the waist and swaggered around the stage. Cameron Sharp stole many scenes as the camp German, Franz, and treated the audience by displaying his thighs which would make a pro-rugby player jealous. Noel Sullivan exceeded expectations as Drew and Cordelia Farnwoth was a versatile lead. But the energy and enthusiasm of Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Lonny, the comedic narrator, made him stand out from the remainder of the cast.
The stage was busy and detailed, combining a static background, video projection and moveable props, all complimented by some well-designed lighting. The live band was good, and the balance between music and vocals were about right. The costumes reflected the stonewashed denim and excessive lace of the era, but the choreography and dancing could have been tighter than it was.
Rock of Ages is energetic, bold, brash, loud and in your face – reflective of the rock movement at the time – and nestles neatly between being an affectionate tongue in cheek tribute to the times and a knowing, self –mocking piece of fun with an abundance of flesh on display and a playful feel to it. It amounts to a generally fun but throwaway piece of musical theatre which was lapped up by the crowd and the finale garnered whoops and cheers, bringing everyone to their feet and singing along.
Rock of Ages is currently playing at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 1st November 2014, before rounding off its national tour. For more detail, visit the official website at: www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/