The smell of wine and cheap perfume is practically rife in The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, as the audience settles in for a night of rock n’ roll debauchery at Rock of Ages.
A global smash hit musical with stints on London’s West End, Broadway, and Las Vegas, Rock of Ages promises to bring crowds hurtling back to 1980s Los Angeles when bands like Mötley Crüe wore more makeup than their female fans, glam metal dominated, and every mind-expanding drug and excuse to party was very much used and abused.
Set on the Sunset Strip, in the ‘Bourbon Room’, a remake of the notorious Whisky a Go Go, Lonny (Lucas Rush) is our fabulously flamboyant narrator.
We meet Lonny in a time of crisis for his beloved Bourbon Room as developers measle their way in and threaten to demolish the Strip and replace it with a clean-living, civilised suburbia.
A cast of rockers and misfits dance, sing, and fight their way back with perfectly-executed choreography and electric vocals, using everyone’s favourite rock ballads to ward off the suits.
Of course, no story would be complete without a love story, as Lonny breaks the fourth wall to tell us. Enter: Drew (Luke Walsh), a city boy, born and raised in South Detriot, and young aspiring rock star who mops floors in the Bourbon, and Sherrie (Jodie Steele), a small town girl, living in a lonely world, who took the midnight train to LA to become an actress.
With passionate, roof-shattering vocals from Walsh, Steele, and the rest of the cast, the show gives the people what they want with hits including We Built This City, Don’t Stop Believin’, We’re Not Gonna Take It, I Wanna Know What Love Is and many more. (But no Def Leppard? Come on, guys. What about Pour Some Sugar On Me?)
Rush as Lonny is one of the true stars of the show who never fails to make us laugh, interact with the audience, and adlib with effortless charisma. Zoe Birkett, too, is an unsung hero of the show with powerhouse vocals and dazzling sex appeal as Justice, the owner of Venus, a ‘gentleman’s club’ on Sunset Strip.
The worry with musicals based on rock music is often that the raspy tones and thrashing guitar solos synonymous with metal won’t translate onto the stage where the performances are precise and the vocals are crisp and clean with a large helping of cheese.
But Rock of Ages more than compensates with dynamic costumes, dramatic rock gig lighting, passionate vocals, and explosive performances from a cast that seemingly never run out of energy.
Rock of Ages is a feelgood, tongue n’ cheek hit of nostalgia that reminds everyone why we’re still obsessed with the music and fashion of the 1980s.
Have you seen Rock of Ages? Let me know what you thought in the comment section below.