Monday, July 9, 2012

Rock of Ages

L-R Simon Lipkin, Justin Lee Collins, Oliver Tompsett. Photo taken from Rock of Ages London website.

Quite frankly this musical was genuinely the most fun I think I’ve ever had in the theatre; a simple and enjoyable storyline with a script permeated with uninhibited and hilarious jokes that delight your unashamed and slightly naughty funny bone.

Five-time Tony nominated musical Rock of Ages is the story of young dreamers Drew (Oliver Tompsett) and Sherrie (Natalie Andreou) who find themselves working in Dennis Dupree’s (Justin Lee Collins) Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip of Los Angeles. Narrated by the hysterical Lonny (Simon Lipkin) we watch this city boy and small town girl strive to achieve their goals, while Dupree does his utmost best to keep his beloved bar from being closed down- enter womaniser Stacee Jaxx (Shayne Ward) whose popularity could be the Bourbon’s only chance. Containing 28 rock anthems, including Wanted Dead or Alive, The Final Countdown, Don’t Stop Believin’ and Here I Go Again, heart-racing choreography by Kelly Devine, and a cheesy but witty book by Chris D'arienzo, this show will have you out of your seats and brimming with nostalgia and cheer.
Tompsett’s vocal range is outstanding, and he gave his character the perfect balance of charm, perseverance, and at times (as most musicians who had to battle the odds at the beginning of their careers may remember) the frustration that only comes from wanting something so badly. The audience were in his corner from start to finish, and the energy Oliver has on stage makes him simply glow with excellence. Natalie’s performance was also a stand out; she has a powerful and beautiful voice, and her Sherrie is charismatic and very likable, despite the mistakes she makes on her way to Hollywood stardom. Simon Lipkin’s Lonny is cheeky, childish, and playful as the day is long; he provides the majority of the humour and he does it extremely well.

I found myself feeling extremely proud of Justin Lee Collins in this musical; having watched the programme he did for Sky about his progression from a karaoke regular to a professional performer on the West End stage, I was aware of where he started and could compare that to where he is now. It is very obvious how hard he has worked for this part, and even though his vocals were not quite on the same level of those in the cast who have perhaps received years of training in preparation for this kind of career, they were still brilliant and well suited to his part, and his acting was of an incredible standard. Rachel McFarlane (Justice) should have been in more of the show in my opinion- she is fairly absent during the first few scenes, then all of sudden out she comes with such a strong, crystal clear voice that just stunned the audience into silence (quite a considerable achievement considering how excitable they had been throughout the rest of the show).
The success of this musical rests on the cast’s abilities to sing these already established classic hits that almost everybody in the audience will know the words to, and several will be protective of their legacy. Both individually and collectively, this group of actors do an exceptional job. You do feel like you are at a best of the best rock concert, and that is also thanks to the live band who remain on stage throughout the entire performance and from the beginning are vital members of the cast- staggering performances were given by these guys as well. If you’re looking for an entertaining, loud, and lively night this is the perfect musical for you- it is one of the few currently on the West End where you can let your hair down and sing along as loudly as you’d like. Rock of Ages is the king of the crowd pleasers.
I wouldn't recommend this show for young children- but for you adults out there, here is the link to get your tickets

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