Showing at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham last month was the award-winning smash hit musical Rock of Ages, writes Becky Kane.
Set in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, this show will have you getting up out of your seat and dancing the night away. With songs such as Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ and ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ by Foreigner, you’re guaranteed to be singing along throughout the performance with the rest of the audience. The theatre itself is well placed, next to Forman Street, which is packed with cafés and restaurants, many of which offer great pre-theatre dinner menus. It is a small but beautiful venue. We found our seats in the dress circle with ease and discovered that we had, quite possibly, one of the best views of the stage. The seats were comfy, the atmosphere cosy and after stocking up on the essential drinks and sweets from the kiosk (both of which were surprisingly reasonably priced for a theatre) we were ready for the show.
The story starts in The Bourbon Room, a bar on Sunset Strip, where you meet workers Lonny and Drew (played by Noel Sullivan, ex Hear’Say). You then meet Dennis, the club’s owner and Sherrie, a “small town girl” who comes to LA to follow her dreams of becoming an actress. Drew manages to persuade Dennis to give Sherrie a job as a waitress. He takes Sherrie on a date, where his nerves get the better of him and in a misunderstanding they end the night as friends.
Meanwhile Hertz Klinemann, a German developer and his son Franz, are bribing the Mayor to tear down Sunset Strip and abandon the current rock and roll culture, much to the distress of the Mayor's city planner Regina. In a bid to save The Bourbon Room from closure, Dennis persuades Stacey Jaxx (Ben Richards), lead singer of Arsenal, a popular rock band about to break up, to play their last gig at the club.
The ups and downs of Drew and Sherrie’s friendship take centre stage, as Sherrie proceeds to sleep with Stacey Jaxx in the men’s room. Drew becomes the new lead singer of Arsenal, pursuing his ambitions of becoming a rock star. Their lives take a turn for the worse however, as Sherrie ends up a dancer in the Venus Club and Drew a pizza delivery guy. Meanwhile, Franz and Regina create a love story of their own, as do Lonny and believe it or not... Dennis!
I won’t give the ending away, but it’s definitely a musical that should be on your ‘to see’ list. It may not have the same impact as We Will Rock You, but it is both entertaining, funny and full of innuendo. The girl’s costumes in particular had a distinct hint of Rocky Horror to them – all bras, knickers and suspenders. The script certainly had some choice content. I can see why it’s not recommended for under 11s. Frankly I’m not sure you’d want to take your granny either!
Otherwise, it offers everything you’d want from a musical. I’m not normally a rock music fan, yet I still found myself singing along to most of the songs. The finale was excellent. Rock of Ages is the only musical I’ve been to where absolutely everyone was on their feet, either clapping, dancing or both! The Rock of Ages UK Tour runs until November 2014.