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.
By Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley
Directed by Dan Pengelly
Review Date: 4th November 2017
Centrepoint’s latest production Ropable opened on Saturday night. Advertised as a ‘Killer Christmas Comedy’ you may guess that it’s a bit of a black comedy, and you may not guess that the Christmas part refers to the fact that Centrepoint are bringing it to you near Christmas time...
Adapted for our local audiences’ particular enjoyment, this version of Ross Gumbley and Allison Horsley’s Ropable is set in Shannon with a lot of witty one-liners and colloquial knowledge that weaves extra fun into the show. As young ghost writer Eden Forsyth plans her wedding at the 'Shan In' to celebrity Monty Parker, who has been married a few times before, it seems Eden might be getting entangled in a 'bad romance'. Surprises abound as Norma the manager of the 'Shan In', Auntie Prudence, and Eden's mother Constance, all attempt to intervene to protect Eden from Monty's unfaithful and drug-fueled ways. But things are never what they seem...
An older audience may get extra kicks out of this Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery parody but younger people will not miss out on any of the fun for not knowing (as was evidenced by my thirteen year old’s enjoyment of the show). Everything needed for a bit of fun and frivolity was there, from sexual innuendo, frights, great props, suspense, and good old fashioned laughs, to psychological thrills and spills.
A strong cast kept Ropable tight, their strength and skill knitting together to make sure the comedy delivery didn’t unravel into awkward or cringe-worthy moments. Carrie Green’s role as Norma Bates the manager of ‘Shan In’ was wonderfully portrayed, her combination of intimidation, sexual prowess, physical comedy, and deadpan deliveries coming together in a terrifyingly funny way.
Mark Wright was a bit of a surprise. At first I thought he was not really pulling off his role as Monty, but it turns out he was playing his role as an annoying, idiotic, philandering ****hole really well. Later when Eden’s father Nigel wanders on stage unexpectedly, it took me a while to realise it was Mark Wright in more than simply different clothes. Both roles were poles apart and my feelings towards them were too.
Innocent Eden played by Torum Heng strung everyone along, Eden’s mother Constance played by Lori Dungey brought colour and va-va-voom with her, and Auntie Prudence played by Yvette Parsons performance was a real ‘scream’!
Excellent use of lighting and sound effects provided great mood and brought shock elements to life. The set lent itself to producing a larger than life environment to work with, from the upstairs vertigo suite to the sauna and outside to some amusingly named landscape features. Imaginary places fed by clever set arrangement expanded the play into the unseen. Alfred Hitchcock references riddled the set, and a keen eye will find plenty to smile about.
Ropable doesn’t take itself seriously, everyone’s there for a bit of a laugh and there’s plenty to laugh about. If you feel like unraveling from the stresses of the silly season, check into Ropable’s ‘Shan in’ and enjoy a rollicking ride.
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