It’s certainly what I would call a marmite musical – you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it – there won’t be any in between!
If you like cheesy musicals, with power ballads, lots of good songs and plenty of action on the stage then Rock of Ages is for you. As a musical it belts its way through many well known hits from the early eighties – there are songs that are widely recognisable from bands such as Whitesnake, Foreigner, Poison, Bon Jovi, Starship and even a bit of Slade – so yes – you can see where this is going – big hair dos, big songs, over the top production – oh and plenty of sleazy jokes too.
But let me tell you this – as sheer escapism, as a good old fashioned love story, and as a good night’s entertainment then Rock of Ages really does work, especially if you are of an age, as I am, when you can remember most of these songs from the time they originally hit the UK charts.
Set in Los Angeles in 1987, it’s the story of wannabee actress and country girl Sherrie, and Drew who wants to become a ‘rock god’, giving it their best to succeed in the seedy underworld of Sunset Strip. Throw in an ageing rock star in Stacee Jaxx whose band Arsenal are due to make their final appearance at The Bourbon Club as a favour for club owner Dennis Dupree, as he is fighting to save his club from closure, and a scheming German property developer who is trying to grab the land on which the club stands and rebuild the strip.
It all makes for a farcical journey through hope, despair, love missed, love lost and ultimately love found, through the ups and downs of chasing stardom and the highs and lows this can bring with it.
If you don’t take yourself too seriously, then you will be entertained, the sleazy narrator of the story, Lonny, has some good one liners, some bad jokes, some awful tacky lines – but you know what – he makes it work – and the music is no doubt over the top, brash and in your face. But, if this show doesn’t get you laughing and singing in equal measure then I would be surprised – I went with low expectations, but I returned having been thoroughly entertained, with my ears ringing, and with a smile on my face – now that’s not at all bad for a night out is it!
Rock of Ages is touring the UK until the end of November – for a full list of dates and venues visit http://www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/tour/
Aiden Sawley – Guest theatre reviewer