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Justin Lee Collins Jams in London Rock of Ages

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Hirsute TV and radio presenter Justin Lee Collins has been announced as the first cast member for the West End musical Rock of Ages which opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 27 September (previews from 31 August 2011), initially booking for a 20-week season to 11 February 2012.

Collins takes on the role of bar owner and ageing hippy Dennis Dupree - played in the original LA stage show by Kyle Gass of the rock band Tenacious D.

Rock of Ages marks Collins' second West End outing - when working on Sky TV series JLC Is... he joined the cast of Chicago and, after weeks of vocal training, played Amos Hart for three performances to help celebrate the show's 11th anniversary.

Speaking about his upcoming role, Collins today said in a press statement: “Being a fan of bands like Whitesnake, Foreigner, Journey and Bon Jovi, I couldn’t resist when I heard about the chance to appear in the show. What young lad hasn’t strummed the air guitar to the classic riffs of those poodle-haired rock bands of the 80’s? Now I’ll get to do it on stage every night!"

Set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip and billed as an “arena-rock love story”, Rock of Ages centres on Drew, a busboy and aspiring rocker who chases his dreams to Los Angeles’ most famous rock club, where he meets a small-town girl newly arrived from Kansas, named Sherrie.

The musical, which has a book by Chris D'Arienzo, and is laden with classic rock anthems, premiered in LA in 2006. It opened Off-Broadway in October 2008, before transferring to Broadway’s Brooks Atkinston Theater in April 2009 and, subsequently, the Helen Hayes Theater. The show is currently being made into a film, starring Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Alec Baldwin will play Dennis Dupree.

Rock of Ages was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2009 but went home empty-handed from the ceremony that was dominated by Brit import Billy Elliot. The show is also currently playing in New York, Toronto and Melbourne.

Further casting is still to be announced.

Rock of Ages is directed by Kristin Hanggi. It has choreography by Kelly Devine, design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Gregory Gale, lighting design by Jason Lyons, sound design by Peter Hylenski and projection design by Zachary Borovay. Ethan Popp is music supervisor.


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