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Rock of Ages - UK Tour - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Don't stop believing in this rock musical
Modern-day musical Rock of Ages has a lot in common with the soft rock 1980s bands that make up its soundtrack.

It's full of bad haircuts (long soft perms), questionable outfits and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Rock2
Noel Sullivan rocks but is hardly recognisable with long hair


Set in 1987 Los Angeles, the show is a mix tape of songs by the likes of Europe, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth and even Starship. Crocodile Dundee billboards grace the backdrop, while Samantha Fox is still a Page 3 girl. The men wear leather and long hair, the women barely cover their bottoms.

Amid the beer bottles, smoke and raunchiness of rock bar The Bourbon Room, our wonderfully witty narrator Lonny (a hugely likeable Stephen Rahman-Hughes) introduces us to wanna-be musician Drew and fresh-faced new girl in town Sherrie as they realise the pitfalls of the Hollywood dream and the rocky road to love.

Meanwhile, in a separate plot, there's German father and son property developers Hertz and Franz threatening to close down the bar to make way for a new sanitised, non-rock sunset strip.

It's never a drum beat away from a joke or classic tune, but the stage really comes alive with the entrance of hardened rocker and womaniser Stacee Jaxx. He's basically an over-sexed, over-confident and over-the-top version of any glam rock band frontman.

Taking on the role played by Tom Cruise in the 2012 film is Ben Richards - known for safer roles in TV shows Footballers' Wives, Doctors and Holby City. He seems inspired in this latest role, and lets his hair down for a scene-stealing performance.

Rock3
Ben Richards is a sexy Stacee Jaxx


He's not the only recognisable name in this big budget production. Former Hear'Say pop star Noel Sullivan is our hero Drew, roaring impressively through anthems like Cum On Feel The Noize and the climax of Don't Stop Believin'.

Then there is the powerful voice of Rachel McFarlane as strip club owner Justice Charlier, who was the voice behind the 2004 LMC chart hit Take Me To The Clouds Above.

But the real stars of the show are the live band, who rock on stage throughout the two hour performance.

Rock1
Former pop star Noel Sullivan stars in Rock of Ages


This new UK Tour, taking in Liverpool, Bristol, Oxford and most major cities in the UK, follows success on Broadway and London's West End.

I caught the show at New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, where the rock pantomime quickly won over the audience despite intermittent sound problems.

Rock4
Rock of Ages is fun with a great soundtrack of 1980s hits


There's a touch of the Wayne's World about Rock of Ages. It's flippant, fun and every character is a cliche.

So don't fight the feeling any more because seeing Rock of Ages is just like livin' in paradise - well, a soft rock one at any rate.

Score: 8/10

Rock of Ages

Tickets cost from 12.90 from the Rock of Ages website.

May 12 -17 - Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre

May 19 - 24 - Edinburgh Playhouse

June 2 - 7 - Torquay - Princess Theatre

June 16 - 21- Bromley - The Churchill Theatre Bromley

June 30 - July 5 - Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

July 7 - 12 - Bristol Hippodrome

July 14 - 19 - Stoke-on-Trent - Regent Theatre

July 21 - 26 - Liverpool Empire, Liverpool

July 28 - August 2 - Sunderland Empire

August 4 - 9 - Glasgow - King's Theatre

August 11 - 16 - Brighton - Theatre Royal

August 18 - 23 - Milton Keynes Theatre

August 25 - 30 - Woking - New Victoria Theatre

September 1 - 6 - York - Grand Opera House York

September 8 - 13 - Southampton Mayflower Theatre

September 29 - October 4 - Hull New Theatre

October 6 - 11 - Cardiff New Theatre

October 13 - 18 Blackpool Opera House

October 20 - 25 - Oxford - New Theatre

November 17 - 22 - London - New Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon

Cast list:
BEN RICHARDS - STACEE JAXX
CAMERON SHARP -FRANZ
CORDELIA FARNWORTH - SHERRIE CHRISTIAN
DANIEL FLETCHER - DENNIS DUPREE
NOEL SULLIVAN - DREW
IMOGEN BROOKE - CONSTANCE
JACK LORD - HERTZ KLINEMANN
JESSIE MAY - CANDI, REGINA
STEPHEN RAHMAN-HUGHES - LONNY
RACHEL MCFARLANE - JUSTICE CHARLIER, MAMMA
RAKESH BOURY - DJ, JA'KEITH GILL, MAYOR

THE BAND
PIERCE TEE
ASHLEY WILLIAMS
ANDY GAMMON
GARY LIEDEMAN
ALEX MACHINSON

What people are saying about the show on Twitter:

@rolling_ryan - We are rocking it at @NewAlex_Theatre with @rockofagesuk as good, if not better than the west end version!! #brilliantnight

@bex_valentine - @benrichardsact is one kick ass Stacee Jaxx!! Looking good!

@AndyGoulding - A musical with a rock gig vibe! Jack Daniels for the ears!
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Why? Sensational fun musical that rocks
When: Touring until November
Phone: Various theatres on UK Tour
Where: UK Tour including Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool, Blackpool, Wimbledon
Cost: From 12
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