Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Rock of Ages' - my new favourite guilty pleasure

The posters up at tube stations really do speak the truth when talking about London's best new guilty pleasure musical or whatever the exact wording is. I had heard pretty good things about Rock of Ages. However, since I am not a complete rock music fanatic, I was not in too much of a rush to see it right away. The opportunity presented itself on Monday when I found out there were £12 stalls tickets (inc. booking fee) available for 16-26 year-olds for this particular performance. Not missing out on a deal like that! The seats we were allocated were brilliant as well! Almost bang in the middle of the auditorium so we could see the whole stage without obstruction.

Rock of Ages at Shaftesbury Theatre, London
Performance: 16th December at 17:30 (such a random time for a show! No wonder they have cheap tickets for this and no wonder the show was u/s dominated)
Cast included: Grant Anthony (Dennis, u/s), Shayne Ward (Stacee Jaxx), Jamie Muscato (Drew, u/s), Jodie Jacobs (Sherrie, u/s), Simon Lipkin (Lonny), Zizi Strallen (Regina, u/s), Rohan Tickell (Hertz), Sandy Moffatt (Franz), Rachel McFarlane (Mother), Carly Mercedes Dyer (Mother, u/s, took over in the second act)

According to the programme, the show would include 31 rock hits (of which I only recognised 7). That made me scared: How on earth would they fit that many songs as well as a plot of some sort into a 2,5h show? There was no way for it to overrun too much either since the next performance was due to start at 20:30. 
The answer: Surprisingly well. It was to a great extent a rock concert but there was an attempt of a plot: Sherrie moves to California to become an actress. She meets Drew, an aspiring rock star, at the club where he works, which is owned by Dennis. Hertz and his son Franz appeal to the Mayor in order to create a rock 'n' roll place of the much beloved city and Regina (who wishes her name to be pronounced so it rhymes with 'vagina'), the Mayor's PA, makes it her task to protest against the reform which the Mayor agrees to. The two men then go on to tell Dennis that the club will be shut down. Drew and Sherrie, predictably, fall for each other but Drew does not communicate his feelings clearly enough and so Sherrie ends up getting off with Stacee Jaxx, the real rock star whom all the girls are after. I will not reveal any more for those of you who want to go and see it but, well, the plot is fairly predictable. It should perhaps not be criticised for that, however, because this musical is very much a feel-good one focused on the songs and might suffer rather than benefit from having a complicated plot. Having seen We Will Rock You, I preferred Rock of Ages in terms of the storyline.

I recognised Jamie Muscato from the children's sitcom My Parents Are Aliens which I used to love. That was slightly surreal to begin with but I forgot that as soon as he started to sing as his vocals were phenomenal. I did not expect a voice as big as that. 
Jodie did a brilliant job of Sherrie who, as a character, initially reminded me of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. The slightly breathy quality of voice suited the genre perfectly. 
Simon Lipkin was an absolute legend. Lonny, his character, acted as a narrator for the story so he addressed the audience and commented on what was going on. It seemed almost like he was improvising some of his performance. Particular point where I suspected this was when he was explaining Drew that he is an actor in a musical and showing him a copy of the very same Rock of Ages programme that was lying in my lap. Lonny said something along the lines of: "Look, there you are! Awww, look at that baby face. You have short hair there but long hair here *tugging Drew's hair*. Short there but long here. How old are you here *points at Jamie's picture in the programme*? Four?" He then went onto saying how he thought Drew should do his hair. Both Simon and Jamie were cracking up at this point but it was not a big deal as the moment was not too serious. So Simon Lipkin was very relaxed and funny. 

Other special mentions go to:

  • Rohan Tickell's gorgeous voice
  • Sandy Moffatt who was responsible for the funniest line in the play: "I'm not gay, I'm just German!", he reminded me of a male version of Galinda in Wicked (if those two were in a show together it would turn out a complete disaster)
  • Shayne Ward who was a great actor
  • The fabulous dancers
Not only did the actors address the audience, they were also running around, through the audience as a part of the show which was a nice add. The audience was really encouraged to get involved (although not quite as involved as a bunch of girls on our right across the aisle did with the help of some alcohol - not only were they loud at inappropriate points but they also got up to go to the toilet constantly). This sort of involvement and a kind of team spirit that developed is not that common in the West End I think. The only other time I have gotten the feeling that the audience really is there to support the performers was at Shrek the Musical so it really is not given. (And that resulted in the hot guys sitting on my left even saying 'hi' to us!)

Would I recommend Rock of Ages? Yes, I would. If you like rock music, even better I'm sure but my friend and I don't know very much about rock music and we still agreed that it was a great night out. Go see it. The theatre staff are very friendly as well and they gave us small glowy things that we could wave in the air during the performance! :D

Official website:


  1. I agree, Jamie is so good as Drew

  2. In fact my daughter fell in love with him!