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Rock Of Ages (Tour-Mayflower)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It can be difficult to write a story around a choice of songs that bear no relation to each other. Even then the story can be contrived, with no real effort put into it.

Ben Richards (Stacee Jax) and cast in Rock of Ages.
© Manuel Harlan

Here this is no different. Full of cliches, bizarre plot points, and a story that rushes by as the musical hastily moves on to the next song. This is a 'dumb' musical to put it plainly and simply. But does that really matter. Rock of Ages is actually a comedy. The audience laughs at the stupidity the musical takes in its stride. The cast wears its silliness with pride and enthusiasm, and sings the wide range of 80s rock hits with gusto.

There is much breaking the fourth wall, thanks to Stephen Rahman-Hughes as the narrator of the musical, Lonny. The audience loves his campness, and though he does milk the jokes at times, he is a comic delight.

He introduces us to the Susnet Strip, Los Angeles in 1987. Wannabe rocker Drew Boley works in a club called The Bourbon Room. He falls for Sherrie Christian, a new girl from Kansas looking to become an actress. Basically your typical couple, choosing between their dreams and their love. Noel Sullivan as Drew belts the songs like I Wanna Rock with zeal. Cordelia Farnworth meanwhile is sweet as the naive Sherrie.

Jack Lord couldn't get anymore villainous as German developer, Hertz Klinemann. Determined to rid the strip of rock-n-roll, his rendition of The Final Countdown is imperious. As his son Franz, Cameron Sharp's campness is enough to rival Lonny and together with Jessie May as protester, Regina, they make for a fantastic duo.

The chemistry between Lonny and Daniel Fletcher as the Bourbon Room's owner, Dennis Dupree, is delightful in the 2nd act especially as they sing Can't Fight This Feeling. Ben Richards is the full package as Stacee Jaxx, and we see him embrace the rock-n-role lifestyle to the max. Despite the short role, Rachel McFarlane provides some impressive vocals as neighbouring strip club owner, Justice Charlier.

The set is pretty compact with a small screen at the back showing the locations and various animations. The lighting meanwhile is electrifying, the audience blinded as the the opening music blasts out from the band at the back, They are a character in themselves.

A surprisingly hilarious and entertaining musical. It just proves that not every jukebox musical has to take things seriously but rather provide a night out the audience won't forget.

Rock of Ages plays at the Mayflower until the 13th September and then continues to tour until the 22nd November.

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