Theatre review: Rock of Ages, Manchester Opera House
- Credit: The Other Richard
Classic ‘80s rock songs, a love story and some cheeky innuendos sums up the musical Rock of Ages, and from the opening scene you can tell it’s a musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The show indulges in every rock stereotype that you can think of – the womanizing rock star Stacee Jaxx, played by Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton, the wannabe rock star, the innocent young girl with Hollywood dreams, even the groupies were exaggerated. But people don’t come to see Rock of Ages for an intricate plot, they come to be entertained, sing along to classic songs – including Europe’s The Final Countdown, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive. and have a good time, which the people at Manchester Opera House certainly did.
It was Joe Gash, who played Lonny/the narrator who stole the show, with his cheeky story-telling, flirtatious banter, (a woman on the front row can attest to this), and his sarcastic quips about the film and The Times giving them two stars. Stepping in and out of the story kept the humour flowing, and his infectious energy kept all eyes on him – even when in the background. There were some amazing vocal performances, especially when Justice, played by Jenny Fitzpatrick entered the scene with her brilliant singing. I can see how she’d once performed in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.
One thing I will say, is that I wish the character of Stacee Jaxx was played up more, in terms of the rocker stereotype. With a musical that is happy to include every rocker stereotype, I think they fell short with the look of Stacee Jaxx. The white cowboy boots and white Stetson didn’t scream rockstar to me...more Village People. In comparison to Tom Cruise’s performance in the film, Kevin Clifton’s was somewhat forgettable.
This is a show where the music really shines and the performance by the live band were incredible. Guitar solos and riffs showcased the talent and they should be applauded for the seemingly effortless performance of 23 songs.
The show ended with everyone joining in with Don’t Stop Believin’, and you could tell people enjoyed the show. Kevin Clifton took the time to thank the audience for supporting theatres after the past year and it was greatly appreciated.
Overall, the show was hugely entertaining and if you take it for what it is, a rock star parody with a great soundtrack, then you won’t be disappointed.