Rock Of Ages could well be billed as a feel good rock music stage show and in many ways that is exactly what it is. 1980’s rock anthems woven into a club story on Sunset Strip is enhanced with a – as they say in the trailer ‘a musical needs a lurve story’. Chris D’
Arienzo devised the scenario after hearing producers were looking to develop such a concept. He auditioned and won and in his own words ‘the show I pitched is almost exactly what you see on stage now’.
Rock Of Ages opened in 2005 in a club on Hollywood Boulevard, moved to a Las Vegas hotel then off-Broadway by 2009 before being hailed as a Broadway success with nearly 2500 performances in six years. This brand new UK touring production stars Antony Costa as Stacee Jaxx, Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) as Dennis and Zoe Birkett (X-Factor) as Justice. Despite these star names the show’s success hinges on the likeable Lonny (Lucas Rush) who narrates the proceedings while flirting with the audience and Sherrie (Jodie Steele) who dreams of making it big in Hollywood only to end up in the Venus Gentlemen’s Club as a stripper (convincingly too).
Heavy Rock and Glam set the scene and the fashions and the music played live reflects this. The debauchery and sexism of the era are shown in the stage attitudes, wise cracks and costumes. Credit to MD Liam Holmes for his keyboards and arrangements but also to lead guitarist Drew Lowe for some note for note solos from that time.
Ballads like I Wanna Know What Love Is, Every Rose Has Its Thorn and Keep On Lovin’ You only tease us for the big anthems like The Final Countdown and Here I go Again. We get music from Poison, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Styx, Foreigner, Europe and Whitesnake but the closing Don’t Stop Believin’ by the entire company is a fitting finale: powerful, loud and bang on the money.
Odd fact: Def Leppard’s title track Rock Of Ages? Not featured in the show.
Edinburgh Playhouse until May 4