Ah! It’s good to step out and breathe contemporary once more, isn’t it? With the return to lifetime of London’s theatres, Rock of Ages has bounded again onto the stage.
As an award-winning and iconic musical, hopes had been excessive for this new UK tour, which leaves the New Wimbledon Theatre on the 25th of September. Filled with smash-hits from the ’80s, there’s little doubt that fists will likely be pumping unironically within the air because the viewers is handled to the music blasting out of The Bourbon Room, the murky music venue set on the coronary heart of the present.
Joe Gash (Strictly Come Dancing), takes the narrator’s half, Lonny, propelling us via a journey of Hollywood desires and the exhausting hustle of these within the business. Joe may be very personable and one of many highlights of the present. With a captivating grin and smouldering eyes, he’s laborious to not love.
Sadly, the identical can’t be mentioned for the present basically. It’s full of nice expertise who all play their roles admirably, however an issue lurks beneath this better-than-some jukebox musical.
Rhiannon Chesterman performs Sherrie, the small-town wanna-be who desires of Hollywood. She encounters the good-looking Drew (Luke Walsh) at The Bourbon Room and goes on to spend the rest of the present in a cat-and-mouse sport of making an attempt to handle their emotions and their careers, all whereas belting out a variety of incredible romantic duets.
If all that was wanted to fulfill the viewers was the facility of the singing, then this present can have a prime ranking proper now. The issue that raises its head all through the present is sexism. Rock of Ages first hit the stage in 2009, and what might need been thought-about tongue-in-cheek at the moment has not aged effectively.
Take, for instance, Sherrie utilizing the facility of bending over to acquire a job on the bar, or the vast majority of the dancers spending most of their time sporting not that a lot.
Sherrie and Drew are very one-dimensional creatures, and the performers battle to convey any added depth to their characters via no fault of their very own. That mentioned, the honesty of Drew needing to carry down side-hustles (completely different in every half) to make ends meet appears solely too actual, maybe now extra so than ever within the fashionable gig financial system.
Kevin Clifton, one other Strictly Come Dancing star, performs Stacee Jaxx, a rock god. There are many energetic dance strikes to please the followers, however the scenes between Stacee and Sherrie push the boundaries effectively previous “family-friendly.” Stacee tells ladies to f**ok off or shut up whereas slamming doorways within the faces of others.
In fashionable occasions it is vitally simple to be essential of a present and its portrayal of girls, however the truth of the matter is that in Rock of Ages, the ladies are there as objects to be loved, and their components undergo as a consequence. Undoubtedly that was part of the 80s. However with 18 months off, courtesy of Covid, the present might have been tweaked for audiences within the 2020s. Doing so might have introduced this behaviour underneath the microscope and examined it. As an alternative, it’s simply a part of the present.
It’s not the solid’s fault, nor can we criticise the staging or music decisions. The performances from the rest of the solid are good, with a memorable dance quantity between property builders Franz (Andrew Carthy) and Hetz (Vas Constani), with eco-warrior Regina (Gabriella Williams). A brief and candy efficiency by Jenny Fitzpatrick, enjoying Justice actually left us wishing she had extra traces.
There’ll all the time be an viewers for a present stuffed with power, daring jokes, and a few pretty moments. Questionable sexism apart, there have been loads of ladies within the viewers having a whale of a time, however we do have to wonder if, identical to us, might the present profit from a breath of contemporary air?
E book your tickets now for the Rock of Ages 2021 and 2022 UK tour.