Rock of Ages July 2014

The raunchy musical Rock of Ages opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week to a raucous reception.

In part it is Wayne’s World meets Baywatch - all about rock music, beautiful babes and the wannabe people who live on Sunset Boulevard.

My elder daughter circa 1970 remembers playing tracks from the show on her car stereo from a CD compilation of the 80s.

Me? Well as a working mum-of-three I blinked so missed a decade (or two) to domesticity a strictly not 9 to 5 job in a newspaper office so I didn’t recognise all the songs although the audience certainly did.

After not liking the previous couple of touring musicals at the Hippodrome I wasn’t getting my hopes up with this one and in the opening few minutes I did think ‘oh no here we go again - another dud’.

But I was very wrong – I can’t say this show is brilliant but it does get better and better and most of us were rocking in the aisles from laughter by the end.

The show opened in Broadway in 2006 to great success but a film starring all the usual suspects including Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones bombed at the box office despite featuring several 1980s rock artists including Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi,

The stage show seems to include a couple of local lookalikes!

Emmerdale soap star Stephen Rahman-Hughes who plays the good-looking narrator Lonny Barnett is a dead ringer for the late and lovely Steve Foan, of Wraxall, even down to his wicked sense of humour.

Lonny sets up the X-rated drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll storyline which sees country gal Sherrie Christian (Cordelia Farnworth) arrive in the big city looking for fame and fortune.

She gets a job in a Los Angeles equivalent of a Coyote Ugly bar called the Bourbon Room which acts as a base for heavy metal musicians.

First Sherrie is mugged, then used and abused by self-absorbed rock god Stacee Jaxx played by Ben Richard from The Bill and Footballers Wives.

The hilarious scene in the nightclub loo is show-stopping with the couple making out to the tune of I Wanna Know What Love Is.

And after getting down and dirty with scumbag Stacee, poor Sherrie ends up working downtown in a sleazy dance hall for a brothel madam Justice Charlier (played by gospel singer Rachel McFarlane).

But love conquers all and pretty boy Drew Boley (Noel Sullivan of Hear’Say) saves the day and hippy protester Regina (Jessie May) who waves a ‘rock not rubble’ placard helps defeat Germanic father and son stereotypes Hertz and Franz Klinemann (Jack Lord and Cameron Sharp) from demolishing The Strip and replacing it with We Built This City on rocking and rolling skyscrapers.

Rakish Rakesh Boury takes on a trio of roles but when playing the LA mayor is a caricature of former Clevedon Mercury reporter and now editor of the Western Mercury Simon Angear.

The relationship between body-popping Lonny and Neighbours heartthrob and club owner Dennis Dupree (Daniel Fletcher) is like watching Village People performing YMCA – absolutely side-splitting.

They kiss Eskimo-style in a puff of dry ice!

Warning for parents there are jokes about sheep shagging and worse – definitely a show for grown-ups only.

There were some issues with sound levels and/or diction as while many of us in the stalls were laughing out loud some in the circle and boxes said they missed what was said.

The static scenery with pull-out parts and projected screen backdrop works well, the band is amazing and the chorus line is too sexy for their shirts or tiny throngs!

All the principle characters took a well-deserved standing ovation and even I joined in.

Rock of Ages the musical plays the Hippodrome until Saturday, July 12.


Carol Deacon