I didn’t know much about Rock of Ages before I was invited to the press night*. I knew that is was a Jukebox musical and so I’d probably know most of the songs, and I knew that there was a movie… But I’d also heard that the movie wasn’t too good, so I didn’t bother watching it before I saw the show. It’s rare that I go to the theatre with absolutely no idea about a show nowadays, so I was kind of excited to.
Rock of Ages is set on the Sunset Strip in 1987, and explores rock and roll culture through the owners and workers of The Bourbon Club – the biggest rock and roll host on the strip. The story follows country girl Sherrie, who moves to the city with dreams of becoming an actress and meets wannabe rockstar Drew. It follows their journey to their careers, their love story and the Bourbon Club’s attempt to avoid demolition.
The second it started, I knew I was in for a show. The opening number, featuring a medley of Feel the Noize, Paradise and Good Time, set the tone of the show. We were transported back in time to a rock concert, complete with live guitar players on stage, and Lucas Rush as Lonny providing the perfect, somewhat cooky, host for the night.
The dancing was electric, the songs were performed amazingly, and the outfits were raunchy but gorgeous. All in all, it was a provocative night full of laughs, drama, audience interaction, frequent fourth wall breaking and a soundtrack that you couldn’t help but sing and dance along to.
I’m immediately more interested in a cast if every single member is amazing, (See my Annie review for more context), and that’s exactly what you get with Rock of Ages. There was such a high energy level on that stage that you wanted to be up their dancing with them. However, as always, I have my standouts.
If you ever watch my channel and saw my March favourites video, you’ll know that I’m more than a little obsessed with all versions of the Heather’s soundtrack. I never got to see Heathers, but Jodie Steele is Heather Chandler on the West end soundtrack, so I was very excited to see her live. She definitely did not disappoint. Her role was very demanding in terms of pitch and choreography and she sustained everything beautifully. Her voice never broke, her acting was endearing. Everything was amazing and she’s very talented and I’m in love. That is all.
Watching the musical, Chesterman may have been my favourite character. She plays Regina, the mayor’s assistant who then quits to lead the protest against the demolition of the Bourbon room. Chesterman played her as a bubbly, passionate and geeky woman that you couldn’t help but love. I found myself eagerly waiting for the next scene that would involve her.
Lonny functions as somewhat of a jester, as well as the narrator of the show. He tends to be the one to frequently break the fourth wall, drawing attention to the musical plot conventions and directly interacting with the audience. Rush was dynamic, engaging and had great comedic timing. He was a joy to watch and responsible for most of my laughs.
Like I said, it’s a jukebox musical. This means that all the songs are pre-existing songs that have been fit into the context of the musical. Mamma Mia did it with Abba, Our House did it with Madness, and Rock of Ages does it with 80’s rock songs. We are met with the likes of We Built This City, We’re not Gonna Take It, Dead or Alive, I Want to Know What Love is, and an epic finale of Don’t Stop Believing to name a few.
The segways and placement of the songs is done nicely, albeit a little cheesily at times, but usually this cheesiness is mentioned. And each song played on both nostalgia and fantastic performers, to guarantee that each one is a hit. You’ll be tapping your feet along the whole way.
As mentioned at the beginning, I knew there was a film but it had bad reviews so I didn’t want to watch it before I saw the show. I did, however, watch it after watching the show, and I can attest that it is vastly different from the theatre production. Like, possibly the most different film adaption of a theatre production that I’ve seen. Therefore, I thought I’d list the differences just in case you’ve seen the film and don’t think you’ll like the show. Trust me. You will.
Basically, they may as well be two separate entities. Don’t use the film as a reason for not seeing the musical.
As much as I strongly recommend seeing these, there are a bunch of overtly sexual themes so consider that before deciding to take kids with you.
So much. It’s such a feel good evening and will have you singing and laughing along to some true classics! The UK tour is still going, so if you want to see it, please check out dates here.
Thank you so much to The Bristol Hippodrome for inviting me to the press night! If you have a chance to see this show you definitely should, you won’t regret it!
Lots of love,
Hey, I'm Jasmine Burke. A girl in her twenties fresh out of Uni that's trying to write in any way that she can. I go under the branch of "lifestyle" but honestly, you can find pretty much anything on here.