Naomi Mackay travelled back to the 80s for a rocking night at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.
As we left our seats at the end of Rock of Ages, my companion said to me she wasn’t sure if she’d been to a musical or a rock concert. And she’s right, the show manages to combine fantastic live music, played by a talented band, with a cheesy love story, frenetic action and lots of humour.
Just a side note, if you saw the movie, and it has put you off getting a ticket – please think again! I also arrived not really expecting much having seen the film, but this is in a league of its own – and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Some musicals start off at a slow pace but the narrator Lonny (played by the fabulously frenetic Joe Gash), fires straight into action, connecting with the audience (and one particular young lady in the front row). Be prepared to be part of a running joke if you sit right at the front!
Jukebox musicals – this one harks back to the heady 80s days of (mostly American) rock, with 25 songs from the likes of Whitesnake, Europe, Journey, and Guns n Roses – are often a little slim on plot. And while this one sees rock club the Bourbon Room under threat from developers,and a love story follows two young hopefuls – Drew and Sherrie – hoping to make it big in the world of music and films, it’s the music and comedy that is the real focus of the show.
This is a show that just doesn’t take itself to seriously – I can’t really explain the comedy of the father and son team of German developers – Hertz and Franz (Andrew Carthy and Vas Constanti) but suffice to say, I have never heard an audience at a musical laugh so much – and be prepared for leotards!
Among the smutty jokes, fabulous 80s costumes, and fast-moving storyline, can be found some amazing voices. In the words of another 80s hit – Wayne’s World – this cast can really wail! Particularly outstanding was Jenny Fitzpatrick as Justice.
Another great voice comes from Matt Terry, former X-Factor winner, who plays sleazy Stacee Jaxx. While he has the pipes for the role, Jaxx is supposed to be an ageing, sleazy rock star, and I wasn’t sure he was either old enough or sleazy enough for the role (although the director may have toned down the 80s sexism for a more sensitive 2022 audience!). Kevin Kennedy (probably best known as Coronation Street’s Curly Watts), plays ageing rocker and owner of the Bourbon Room Dennis Dupree with some great comic moments.
But for me, the real star of the show is Joe Gash – it’s worth seeing it for him alone, but Rock of Ages provides two hours of fabulous music, wonderful comedy and a feel-good factor that will keep you singing all the way home. Grab a ticket now!
Rock of Ages is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 28 May.