Tag Archives: Justin Lee Collins

Rock of Ages – Oct 1st 2011 (eve)

10 Oct

I’m guessing a lot of you have read the reviews for Rock of Ages. Calling them mixed might be pushing it. So let’s be honest, most of them were poor – the critics obviously don’t like having their face melted. Do I care? Hell no! I couldn’t care less about what the critics think. I had a brilliant time at Rock of Ages and since I missed out on seeing Oliver Tompsett it was set in stone right after my first visit that I’d be back for more soon.

 

However I seem to attract understudy shows. This time it was Dylan  Turner as Stacee Jaxx, Nathan Amzi as Lonny and once again Natalie Andreou as Sherrie – understudy central on a Saturday evening.

But first of all on to the man of the evening: Oliver Tompsett. I loved his Fiyero in Wicked and have always wanted to see him in a show that would give him the opportunity to show off his amazing voice. And Rock of Ages does exactly that – Oliver’s voice and those catchy rock tunes are the perfect mix. If you think that guy can’t rock – think again. And he’s not only a fantastic singer but also a great actor. His Drew had just the right amount of boyish charm and his connection to the audience was spot on.

Him and Natalie worked really well together. I do want to see Amy Pemperton (after all she’s a former Jersey Girl) but I won’t be disappointed when Natalie is on again next time I’m watching the show. Honestly, she’s so unbelievably cute (I do think the make up is a bit too much but then that’s part of the show) and I really like her voice.

Dylan Turner did a good job as Stacee Jaxx however he did lack Shayne’s charisma and stage presence. I wasn’t too keen on Nathan Amzi as Lonny I have to say. Granted it was his first day in the part but for me he didn’t seem comfortable on stage. Although I admit that I laughed out loud when he read from the Rock of Ages brochure telling Oliver: “Oh that’s not me, that’s the guy I’m covering for.” Pure genius! Maybe he just needs some more performances to settle into the part. And it is hard to step into the shoes of Simon Lipkin anyway. That guy steals the show the moment he walks on stage.

Once again I loved Sandy Moffat’s Franz. Him and Jodie Jacobs are a joy to watch and “I’m not gay, I’m just German” will never fail to amuse me.
Justin Lee Collins seems to really live Dennis by now. His acting is so natural and his comic timing is perfect. He’s not the greatest singer but he manages the songs really well.

Having seen the show only twice so far it’s a bit hard for me to tell who was covering who in the ensemble but it looked like there were less people on stage than usual. But then that’s no wonder with 3 understudies on that evening. I hope this won’t end up with crazy cut shows (Legally Blonde springs to mind). The show is exhausting enough the way it is for the whole cast.

 

Rock of Ages once again proved to be exactly what it wants to be: Cheesy, trashy and a whole lot of fun. Don’t expect Shakespeare, don’t expect Sondheim – just stop thinking and analysing and simply enjoy and laugh. Trust me, in this hectic and busy world that’s exactly what a lot of us need now and then. I’m sure about one thing: This hasn’t been the last time I’ve had my face melted.

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Rock of Ages at the Shaftesbury Theatre

21 Sep

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.

Coming back to the “stars” of the show. Justin Lee Collins is funny (ok, one might have expected that) and his singing abilities are actually better than I thought. He’s more than a bit entertaining as bar owner Dennis. And his “romantic duet” with Simon Lipkin had me in stitches!
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.

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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.

Roa

Rock of Ages is showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. For more info visit http://www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/