Wednesday, 8 March 2017

“Rock Of Ages” by LAOS
Loughborough Town Hall
Lonny Barnett, who serves as the show's narrator, sets up the story: In 1987, an aspiring rocker named Drew Boley works at the Hollywood bar called the Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis Dupree and assisted by Lonny. Drew falls instantly for a girl, Sherrie Christian, who just arrived in town, hoping to make it big in acting. Drew convinces Dennis to hire Sherrie as a waitress.
A pair of German developers, Hertz Klinemann and his son Franz, persuade the city's mayor to abandon the "sex, drugs and rock-n-roll" lifestyle of the Sunset Strip and introduce "clean living" into the area, much to the anger of the City Planner, Regina.
When Dennis learns that part of the plan involves demolishing The Bourbon Room, he believes the club can generate more money by having rock star Stacee Jaxx and his band, who recently announced their break up, play their final gig at The Bourbon Rooms.
Will the club raise the money and stop the demolishment of The Bourbon Rooms?
Will Drew get Sherrie to fall for him as more than just a friend in pursuit of her acting dreams?
Will Franz realise his ambitions and open that confectionary store back in Germany?
Will I ever stop asking silly questions that I already know the answers to?
This show is definitely one of the best “jukebox” musicals around. The songs are the cream of rock anthems. Slade’s “Come On feel the Noize”, Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” & “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”, the song that gets everyone going Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, as well as some marvellous rock ballads like Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Warrant's “Heaven”, Extreme’s “More Than Words”, Mr Big's "To Be With You" and a song that really should have made it really big by The Far Corporation called “The Search Is Over”, plus so many more great songs.
Rock music is a genre that we all think we can sing, especially in the shower, but these guys show just how difficult it is to pull off a great rock vocal. That by the way is no criticism because most have been trained in musical theatre singing, something quite different to this style.
I knew that this show would be nothing short of brilliant by the calibre of the cast and with James Nelson as the director.
Cazz Lander (Sherrie) is extremely eye catching in this role and her sweet vocals compliment those of Dale.
Dale Collington (Drew) gets to show off his fine falsetto and also makes for a fine leading man who gets the girl of his dreams..
David Burton (Stacee Jaxx) plays this role for laughs with a tongue in cheek portrayal of the archetypal rocker with his bevy of groupies.
Chris Wilson (Lonny) is one of the many highlights in this show. As the narrator he constantly has permission to not just break the fourth wall, he smashes the wall to bits by venturing into the audience to chat to them. With at least a dozen costume changes as well, some more dubious than others, but all great fun. His coupling with Dennis takes an odd turn but all done in the best possible taste!
Richard York (Dennis) gets to showcase some fine rock vocals as the club owner, as well as some wonderful comedy lines.
Mark Chinnery (Hertz) gets to be bossy with his son, Franz, but reverses the personality at the end, which also turns out to be great fun to watch.
James Highton (Franz) camps it up in what I think is his first full comedy character. Franz's transformation in Act 2 extracts a massive round of applause from the audience. This is a role that is difficult to go over the top with but such a wonderful role for a very talented actor. Franz also gets to perform a very different version of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" which sent the audience into a frenzy.
Natasha Bryan (Justice) has the voice to sing these songs and has one of the most powerful ranges in the cast. A lovely character part for Natasha as well. One of my highlights, among so many.
Lianne O Connor (Regina). Oh what fun she has in this feisty role as the head of the protesters who also finds an ally from a corner she didn't expect.
Plus an incredible ensemble cast of protesters, dancers minor characters and strippers flesh out this enjoyable and exciting production that will have you singing, dancing, hand clapping and stomping in your seats and out of the theatre and all the way home. Oh and there's also an incredibly cute puppy as well.
Directed by James Nelson, who couldn't resist adding some famous faces to the show which produced a few extra laughs, which came thick and fast. Keeping this show fresh and at a great pace, the story rolled on like of of Saxon's Wheels Of Steel.
This show is also packed with some wonderful rock choreography, thanks to Hannah Osgood, making you want to get on that stage and shake your locks to the rock.
The music is all played live on stage under the musical direction of Peter Fines, creating that gig like atmosphere.What a great band.
There were a few sound issues with mics but nothing too distracting, but I must say that Act 2 was better sound wise, which I noticed was also louder. Now I know I'm getting on a bit but I do like to hear rock music played as it should be LOUD, not because my hearing is on the way out, because that's how rock music should be played.
The set partly converted itself into offices, the men's room (you should see what happens in there!), Justice's boudoir and the record company office among other things.the multi levelled set also provided several exit and entry points which made for a visual treat at times.
There's also two poles, one at either end of the stage which allows a certain amount of athletic gyrations from several of the lovely ladies and the odd man... and I do mean odd!
Some wonderful costumes and amazing wigs complete the rock image and added a lot of sauce to this tasty show.
By the time "Don't Stop Believing" was sung the audience were already on their feet.
“Rock Of Ages” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 11 March 2017. Miss it at your peril.

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