ROCK OF AGES
book by Chris D’Arienzo.
Tour to 22 November 2014.
Runs: 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Sam Chipman 12 May at New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham.
A rock-roaring success despite a lukewarm plot.
The West End was not welcoming to rock romance Rock of Ages when it transferred from a successful Broadway run, largely dismissing it and condemning it to less than 2 years in London. Now it tours the U.K and one has the feeling it will fare much better in the regions.
Although it suffers somewhat from ‘Jukebox shoehorn syndrome’ (with the 80s rock numbers shoehorned into a weak plot-line, along with wafer-thin characters) Rock of Ages is fun and full of laughs.
Make no mistake, it has points that need ironing out, but the show does not try to pretend it is a work of high drama: in fact there are lines that admit it knows it lacks ‘theatrical class’. The fact that it does not take itself seriously allows us not to either.
Noel Sullivan makes use of a strong and versatile voice in the role of wannabe rocker Drew with a quirky interpretation. Ben Richards oozes confidence as Stacee Jaxx. Stephen Rahman-Hughes holds the performance together in the narrator role of Lonny with a cheesy gusto.
Stand-out performances come from Cordelia Farnworth as Sherrie – Farnworth has a gripping presence on stage with delightful vocals – and from Cameron Sharp as Franz,; his impeccable comedy timing and light relief in a song-heavy show is a joy.
Both set and lighting designs are impressive, with much to be said about the clever use of space, though there were some balancing issues with the sound levels.
Kristin Hanggi’s direction is concise and tidy, if not particularly inspired, and the choreography from Kelly Devine fuels the energy-packed numbers, which are fiercely danced by a slick ensemble.
I haven’t laughed as much since watching Avenue Q. Rock is a shameless musical, built to provide great entertainment – how the vocalists can handle such a big, and high sing , including many rock screams and vocalisation, is a puzzle.
Stacee Jaxx: Ben Richards.
Drew: Noel Sullivan.
Sherrie Christian: Cordelia Farnworth.
Dennis Dupree: Daniel Fletcher.
Franz: Cameron Sharp.
Constance: Imogen Brooke.
Hertz Klinemann: Jack Lord.
Candi/Regina: Jessie May.
Lonny: Stephen Rahman-Hughes.
Justice Charlier/Mamma: Rachel McFarlane.
DJ/Ja’Keith Gill/Mayor: Rakesh Boury.
Alternate Drew: Stephen Rolley.
Joey Primo: Tom Andrew Hargreaves.
Dance Captain/Swing: Russell Smith.
Young Groupie: Kylie Michelle Smith.
Swings: Chris Southgate, Charlotte Anne Steen.
Assistant Dance Captain: Tara Verloop.
Waitress 1: Abigail Cumer.
Director: Kristin Hanggi.
Designer: Beowulf Boritt.
Lighting: Jason Lyons.
Sound: Peter Hylenski.
Arranger/Music Supervisor/Orchestrator: Ethan Popp.
Co-Musical Supervisor/Original Arrangements: David Gibbs.
Projections: Zachary Borovay.
Choreographer: Kelly Devine.
Costume: Gregory Gale.
Wigs/Hair: Tom Watson.
Make-up: Angelina Avallone.
Associate director/UK Choreographer: Leigh Constantine.
Associate lighting: Humphrey McDermott.
Associate sound: Chris Full.
Associate musical supervisor. Elliott Ware.
12-17 May Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham 0844 871 3011 www.atgtickets.com/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham
19-24 May Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Sat 5pm& 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Fri 5pm; BSL Signed Thu Edinburgh Playhouse 0844 8711 3014 www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh-playhouse
2-7 June Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Princess Theatre Torquay 0844 871 3023 www.atgtickets.com/princess-theatre-torquay
16-21 June Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm BSL Signed Tue Churchill Theatre Bromley 0844 871 7620 www.atgtickets.com/the-churchill-theatre-bromley
30 June-5 July Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Fri 8.30pm Waterside Theatre Aylesbury 0844 871 7607 www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury-waterside-theatre
7-12 July Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Bristol Hippodrome 0844 871 3012 www.atgtickets.com/bristol-hippodrome
14-19 July Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Regent Theatre Stoke-on-Trent 0844 871 7649 www.atgtickets.com/regent-theatre
21-26 July Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Liverpool Empire 0844 871 3017 www.atgtickets.com/liverpool-empire
28 July-2 Aug Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Sunderland Empire 0844 871 3022 www.atgtickets.com/sunderland-empire
4-9 Aug Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm King’s Theatre Glasgow 0844 871 7648 www.atgtickets.com/kings-theatre
11-16 Aug Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Brighton 0844 871 7650 www.atgtickets.com/theatre-royal-brighton
18-23 Aug Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652 www.atgtickets.com/milton-keynes-theatre
25-30 Aug Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm New Victoria Theatre Woking 0844 871 7645 www.atgtickets.com/new-victoria-theatre
1-6 Sept Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Grand Opera House York 0844 871 3024 www.atgtickets.com/grand-opera-house-york
20-25 Oct Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm New Theatre Oxford 0844 871 3020 www.atgtickets.com/new-theatre-oxford
17-22 Nov Mon-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 5pm & 8.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7646 www.atgtickets.com/new-wimbledon-theatre