facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Rock Of Ages

First Published 28 September 2011, Last Updated 29 September 2011

There are a few key ingredients that every good soft rock music video needs – a wind machine, pyrotechnics, dry ice, lasers, guitarists adopting a wide-legged stance – Rock Of Ages has them all.

In its adoption of the prerequisites for a bouffant-tastic 80s power ballad, it is unsurpassed. Of course, at over two hours long, it needs to be more than a large scale, live music video.

Originally staged in the US before making the leap to the West End, Rock Of Ages is set in 80s LA, where everyone wants to be a rock star or an actress, where everything is heavily sexualised and where there is more uncontrollable hair than at a Wookie convention.

Here, of course, we find a boy and a girl, both chasing separate dreams, who fall in love, but whose love lives are troubled. Here we find a washed-up star desperately holding onto his fame. Here we find a wise old head, whose business is threatened by heartless developers. It may not be original in its plot development, but it is easy to slip into a Rock Of Ages comfort zone and be carried along by a talented cast who bang out a collection of rocking numbers and don’t make the audience think too hard.

This, you may have guessed, is not highbrow, soul-searching, humanity-questioning, philosophising fare. It’s guitar-thrashing, big-hair-tossing, puerile-laugh-inducing silliness, not to be taken within touching distance of seriousness. Chris D’Arienzo’s book is not the most challenging and frequently goes straight for the lowest common denominator laughs – sex, sex, more sex – but the British cast make it work.

Simon Lipkin is a hilariously silly Lonny, the narratorial presence dragging the audience through the story. Justin Lee Collins makes a fine full West End debut as threatened bar owner Dennis, while Shayne Ward is happy to play the fool as struggling rock star Stacee Jaxx, seemingly spending half the evening in his pants.

He’s not the only one. Women in this version of LA seem to have a pathological fear of clothes. Granted part of the show is set in a strip club where wearing much more than undercrackers would be seen as overdressing, but elsewhere similarly little is worn by the female half of the ensemble, while the men sport full rock outfits. It’s back to comparisons with music videos again. The gender disparity is there too.

But what of the music? Fans of 80s poodle rock will certainly recognise more of the tunes than your average musical theatre fan, but songs like Don’t Stop Believin’, The Final Countdown, We Built This City and Wanted Dead Or Alive are well known enough for a mainstream audience. Belted out by a strong-voiced cast, which also includes Oliver Tompsett – who has a perfect voice for soft rock – and Amy Pemberton, their infectious choruses and guitar solos get under the skin and get the head bobbing.

Maybe it’s the Guitar Hero-playing, mullet-envying Bon Jovi fan in me, but despite its flaws and questionable morals I found myself waving my lighter in the air with joy and rocking along with the best of them. In the wise words of Joan Jette and the Blackhearts, Rock Of Ages, I hate myself for loving you, but, as REO Speedwagon so memorably sang, I’m gonna keep on loving you.

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.