The award winning smash hit musical is now showing at the Shaftesbury Avenue Theatre in London’s West End. With Justin Lee Collins and former X Factor winner Shayne Ward as its headlining stars, Rock of Ages takes the audience on a rock journey of a lifetime.
The musical follows a similar formula to many of the popular musicals now on the stage; it takes classic songs and includes them in its music repertoire – it seems a long time ago now that original music was used in such productions. However, musical theatre has found a new audience in those that love hearing songs of their era performed on stage. Rock of Ages offers brilliant choices in the form of We Built this City, Wanted Dead or Alive, Here I Go Again and many many more.
Drew (performed on this night by ensemble member Jamie Muscato) is working at the legendary Bourbon Room on the infamous Sunset Strip. Its stage has seen many legends perform and has also made or broken many a career. He wants it all, the fame, the fortune and, most importantly, he wants to be the biggest rock star. The Room’s most famous star is Stacee Jaxx (Shayne Ward) and his band Arsenal. The club’s owner Dennis (Justin Lee Collins) is in financial trouble and wants Jaxx to perform his first solo show at the club.
Meanwhile Sherrie has moved to LA to become an actress. Leaving small towns and hitting the city hoping to become a star wasn’t uncommon in the 80’s and when she gets mugged on arriving, Drew is there to help – and it is love at first air guitar. The two become close, but the path of love never runs smoothly and there are many twist and turns to keep the young lovers from admitting their true feelings for each other – they sing it a lot though.
The concept for the show is fairly original and, while it may not have the sophistication and extra pizazz of We Will Rock You, it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This is mainly due to its brilliant comic humour. Funnily enough this isn’t even provided by resident funny man Justin Lee Collins, it is actually his sidekick Lonny, played by an amazing Simon Lipkin, that truly makes this show as enjoyable as it is, aside from the great songs. Lonny is the narrator (of sorts) in this show and his interaction with the audience throughout creates lots of laughs and risqué moments. He doesn’t hold back and neither does the rest of the show in its adult humour. The show isn’t exactly one for the kids due to its innuendos and raunchy dance routines, but the adults will have a great time.
Shayne Ward impresses as Stacee Jaxx, who, once at the top, is now suffering from the drugs, the booze and the women. He has some great scenes in his underwear for the female members of the audience and his voice is strong because of the high notes he can reach.
The production manages to really involve the audience – the theatre team hand out little plastic LED lighters so that when a good power rock ballad starts you can all join in. This alone creates a great atmosphere in the theatre. Another brilliant performance came in the shape of Franz (Sandy Moffat), a camp German who wants nothing more than his father’s love while they battle together to tear down the strip and use the land for condos. There is a particular great scene with some Lycra.
You leave the theatre on a musical high wanting to head to a gig and sing your soul out to your favourite rock songs. Don’t miss out on this great night out.
Best scene: ‘I can’t fight this feeling any more’.
Best performance: Simon Lipkin as Lonny.