Rock of Ages
By Abbey Musical Theatre
Directed by Phil Anstis
Review date - 23 November 2017
Okay, so I hadn’t done my homework on Rock of Ages before I rocked up to Abbey Theatre’s opening night (ignorance isn’t all bad) so I had no idea what it was about, and zero expectations. My theatre companion for the night was harping on about how she’d always wanted to see it and blah, blah, blah, but to be fair some of her entertainment choices are a bit questionable. Settling into our seats and leafing through the programme together we hit the ‘musical number’s’ page and gave each other the smiling version of a high-five! From Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’ to Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know what Love is’ there was an impressive list of absolute bangers to look forward to. I got excited.
Set in the legendary ‘The Bourbon Room’ of West Hollywood fame, the stage came alive with music, colour, dance and some great laughs. Skipping in and out of the role of narrator and character Lonny Barnett was Nick Ross – OMG!!!! What a funny guy. He really was a bit of a legend, honestly, I don’t know how to encapsulate effectively how great he was as he skilfully injected laughs at just the right time. Rock on Nick Ross, I salute you.
As one of the lead characters, I recognised Riley Booth (Sherrie Christian) from many singing events and knew her singing would be exceptional. What I wasn’t expecting was for her to be a triple threat, also excelling in dance and acting. Riley left nothing behind, she was a tender yet gutsy and totally believable character. A performance of this calibre for her young age was absolutely outstanding. Riley was truly a star of the show.
Another absolute rock star was Liam Taylor as womanising Stacee Jaxx. Liam has impressed me before and did not fail to again. Total embodiment of his character and great commitment to some challenging songs Stacee Jaxx was the rock god every groupie wanted to be with.
Tyrell Beck as Sherrie Christian’s love interest Drew Boley expertly managed the depth of emotion required for the kind and tender role he played. I've seen Tyrell in a previous show and it was great to see him play a totally different role with the same high standard of acting. Some notes in the numbers he had to sing were a challenge for him to reach but he committed to them none the less.
Jason Harkett (Franz Klineman) with his caricature-style German accent was a crowd favourite with his unerring commitment to character.
The band was handily inserted into the show and residing on the stage, a great option, as they kept everything rocking along. I reckon musical director Michael Doody managed all the music stuff well because there was a lot of it weaving its way through characters, and timing was crucial.
High energy dancers filled the stage with va-va -voom and brought ‘The Bourbon Room’ to life, they must have been exhausted by the time the curtain came down.
Rock of Ages is a fun and exciting show to watch with some standout performances and great music. Although there were a few sound issues on opening night they in no way affected the enjoyment of the show and should be ironed out before subsequent showings.
Abbey Theatre has really rocked this one and laughs came readily from a well entertained audience.