Rock Of Ages performed at The Theatre Royal Nottingham on Monday 9th June 2014.

Reviewer: Sandra Cooper

Rock Of Ages is a show that boasts big hair, big chords and skimpy outfits. It’s pitched somewhere between Wayne’s World and a grungy LA strip joint. This jukebox musical takes a series of soft rock anthems from mostly the 80’s and fuses them with a tongue in cheek story about a bar in LA that faces closure because of greedy property developers.

So far as the story itself goes, Lonny (played brilliantly by Stephen Rahman-Hughes) is the sound guy in the Bourbon Room; a rock joint on the Sunset Strip, run by Daniel Fletcher’s loveable old hippy character, Dennis Dupree. Once he gets going, Rahman-Hughes puts in a strong turn as the narrator, taking the story forward whilst playing up the smut and delivering on the innuendo.

Working as a waiter is Drew (ex Hear Say member Noel Sullivan), who hopes to have help on his first step on the road to rock god stardom. Looking rather like a young Jonathan Ross with his floppy haired wig, Sullivan cuts just the right tone with his bright eyed puppyish attitude. Never more than when he spies Cordelia Farnworth’s Sherrie, a naive new girl in town in her own search to become a star.

But just when it looks like nothing but a good time will be had by all, the city that was built on Rock ‘N’ Roll is in danger of being torn down and turned into a shopping mall thanks to Jack Lord’s dastardly German character, Hertz Klinemann and his young son Franz, played by Cameron Sharp, and who just fizzled with comic intervention. We should also mention rock god Stacee Jaxx (Ben Richards) who fully got into the spirit of things as an amoral, narcissistic rock god; chewing up the scenery as a womanising rock star who muscled in on Sherrie.

So a love story between Sherrie and Drew is thrown into the mix, along with a story of how to save the bar. But for the most part it is all very pure and simple as the guys hang out, drink beer and sport leather and denim, while the girls wander around in stockings, suspenders, skirts that barely cover the bottom and a preponderance of screaming fluorescent pink.

Rock Of Ages fires on all cylinders as far as effort and energy is concerned. This solid cast is certainly a key component to this, but special mention must go to Beowulf Boritt’s terrific set as well as the brilliant costume design work and the bombastic high-octane lighting which makes this show a sumptuous, visceral explosion of colour and vibrancy, particularly for a touring company. Also worthy of some accolades were the live rock band who played discreetly at the back of the set until required to come forward to show how this theatre can truly be rocked.

Whilst to be honest, the show does take a little time to settle down, particularly the first act; one moment the humour can be of a borderline infantile nature, and next a fairly brazen adult vibe can take over, with suitably raunchy on stage action to watch. But it is the music that carries this show through. As the soft rock, the power ballads and the pomp anthems keep on rolling, this is perfect stuff for anyone who can appreciate the irony of bopping out on the disco dance floor to the likes of Foreigner, Journey, Twisted Sister and of course, Starship’s, We Built This City.

At the final countdown, the show works up to a huge, guitar welding finale, as it shows just how to deliver on the entertainment front. It finishes with a rock out which is several orders of magnitude more entertaining than any which has gone before, leaving the audience with no alternative but to sing and clap along to the infectiousness of it all.