Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Rock comedy musical thriller on UK tour
With a far-fetched madcap storyline, this musical is as wild and energetic as the rock hits in its soundtrack.
Rock hits while rolling with laughter
Rock of Ages has attracted quite a following over the years including a film version starring Tom Cruise and its popularity is sure to be down to a heady mix of comedy and an epic soundtrack of '80's soft rock anthems.
I caught the award-winning Rock of Ages during its stint in Birmingham at Alexandra Theatre, where it stays until Saturday 17 November as part of a UK tour. The tour includes other dates in the Midlands in 2019 when it stops off at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre from 11 March to 16 March and Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 28 May to 1 June.
Rock of Ages has a bizarre, often crazy storyline that is part pantomime and part parody. My advice is to embrace the craziness and enjoy the ride - especially the music from a live band.
The music is what draws the crowds in with over 25 classic rock anthems in this riotous, lively show including We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Here I Go Again, Can't Fight this Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is.
For that reason, the whole cast are strong singers too, none more so than Zoe Birkett. She's the one-time Pop Idol contestant, who made a name for herself on the TV competition back in 2001. She doesn't appear until towards the end of the first act as a Madam of the Venus strip club. When she does appear, her powerful voice blows everyone else out of the water - and that's surrounded by a cast of excellent singers.
The main romantic leads (in the flimsy storyline) are the likeable pair of Danielle Hope and Luke Walsh. Danielle is better known for more clean-cut musical roles after winning BBC One's Over the Rainbow, which led to her professional debut in the lead role of Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.
Danielle Hope starring in a very different role to her usual musicals
Since then, she's played Éponine in the West End production of Les Misérables and Maria in the UK tour of The Sound of Music but this time around she's a rock chic with attitude and spends half her time on stage in underwear. It's her singing that really grabs the attention though.
Sam Ferriday, who starred in The Jersey Boys UK Tour and GHOST The Musical UK Tour, is the predatory rocket Stacee Jaxx while the character comedy acting is left to former Coronation Street actor Kevin Kennedy, better known as Curly Watts. He plays bar owner Dennis and does a bit of fine rock singing too.
Kevin Kennedy brushes off Curly Watts for his part in Rock of Ages
The person who completely steals the show is the narrator Lonny played by a wonderful Lucas Rush, who quickly builds up a rapport with the audience. Be prepared for some fun if you are a female on the front row as you could end up being a big part of the show. Rush is our compere of the show, our friend and the one who can't help but make you smile in his tight ripped jeans and 1980's soft perm/mullet.
The plot is just a means to crow barring in the rock hits and I imagine the songs were picked first and the storyline made up around them. It works though as this show is immensely fun.
It makes fun of itself at every turn but always takes the music seriously, whether its Extreme's 'More Than Words', 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' or the uplifting finale of 'Don't Stop Believin'.
A wild story with a great soundtrack
The show does have a recommended age of 14 as there are some raunchy scenes throughout.
If you don't know what to expect, it may take you about half an hour to warm into the show but once you get into the spirit of this musical, all you'll want to do is rock on.
TheRock of Ages tour also includes other dates in the Midlands - Coventry's Belgrave Theatre from 11 March to 16 March 2019 and Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 28 May to 1 June 2019.
The role of 'Stacee Jaxx' will be played by Kevin Clifton from 22 January to 6 April 2019 and from 11 June – 27 July, while Antony Costa will play the role from 8 April to 1 June 2019.
The role of 'Sherrie' will be played by Danielle Hope until 24 November when Jodie Steele will play the part for the remainder of the tour.