I was tempted to do the shortest review ever for Rock of Ages and just go “Cheezy, random… awesome!”. That show is simply hilarious! To put together a musical like this you have to be either drunk, on drugs or be all around mad… andI mean that in a nice way. I won’t do a summary of the story because let’s be serious: The story is absolutely not important. This is a show to have fun, to laugh until you’re crying, to sing along (and that’s coming from me who usually hates a singing audience in a theatre) and to “get your face melted”. I’m tempted to say that the Shaftesbury Theatre might finally have another hit show after being the home of way too many failure shows in the past (though some of them were fantastic in my eyes – I loved Flashdance, for example).
But on with the review. First of all if you want to really get involved in the show I suggest you try your luck with day seats. Avoid the front row though and go for second row as the stage really is very high (and that is coming from someone who is used to sitting in front row at Jersey Boys). I was sat in second row and had a great view for only 25 quid. Complete bargain!
I admit I was a bit disappointed when I heard that Oliver Tompsett was off (but then everyone can get sick plus it gives me the perfect excuse to go and watch the show again).
However, his understudy Jamie Muscato was absolutely fantastic. I think this was his second performance as Drew (the first having been the matinee on the same day) but it certainly never showed. He looked the part, he acted the part and he sounded the part. What a fantastic rock voice! There was one more understudy and that was Natalie Andreou who did a great job as Sherrie. I do want to see Amy Pemberton, who I remember as the original Lorraine in Jersey Boys London but I’ll go and see Natalie again any time. Her and Jamie worked really well together and seemed to have a fantastic time on stage.
Although Justin Lee Collins (Dennis) and Shayne Ward (Stacee Jaxx) are advertised as the “stars” of the show, in my eyes that crown belongs without a doubt to Simon Lipkin. The man is simply hilarious as Lonny (showing off a mullet and all). Granted, we’re not talking about defined humor here but rather straight in the face flat laughs. But that’s what this show is for. If you live for Sondheim this show is most likely not for you. Having said that, I myself do love Sondheim. On the other hand I can also have a light hearted night out at the theatre without deep thoughts and feel good about it.
Shayne Ward, that guy who won the X-Factor back in 2005, is a surprisingly good actor. Yes, Rock of Ages is no Shakespeare but even a rather one dimensional character like Stacee Jaxx needs to be portrayed in a convincing way. And Shayne’s Stacee is fabulous – the perfectly sterotyped Rockstar who is completely full of himself.
Special Kudos to the fantastic Sandy Moffat as Franz (I’m not gay, I’m German). I seriously couldn’t stop laughing whenever he was on stage. Jodie Jacobs who I have seen in various shows (and she was brilliant in all of them) as Regina was absolutely awesome. I just wish she’d have more chances to show off that belter of a voice she’s got. Would definitely love to see her as Sherrie.
So to sum it up: What exactly is Rock of Ages? To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure. It’s not your regular jukebox musical. Beer being sold during a performance, lots (and I mean LOTS) of glitter, fake lighters to wave in the air (and yes, they are being used throughout the show), trashy clothes, trashier hairstyles and a completely bland yet entertaining story. It’s really something you will either love or hate. I can’t imagine someone watching the show and saying “I thought it was ok” afterwards. This is a loud and crazy night out. Just stop thinking and allow yourself to have fun without analysing what exactly you are seeing on stage. And I’m quite sure you will have a great time. If not, well – not every show is for everyone and how boring would life be if we all liked the same kind of shows.
Rock of Ages is showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. For more info visit http://www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/