For sure, because the smash hit musical, Rock of Ages has taken over the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, delighting rock fans and audiences who love 1980’s power ballads alike!
Now let’s make one thing clear; this isn’t Shakespeare. The storyline is jumbled, the characters are crazy, the script is witty and very silly, and the show slaps you around the face and sends you home singing the songs at the top of your voice! The cast are fully aware of this and play up to the crowd accordingly.
Having said all of that though, this show is also very deceiving. Every one of the songs requires exceptionally strong vocal performances, as the rock bands who performed them originally all had outstanding lead singers. So, although it is a cheese fest, do not be fooled into thinking it is an easy one to perform.
If you love rock, the hits come one after the other, with everything from We Built This City to I Want To Know What Love Is, to Keep On Lovin’ You to Don’t Stop Believin’ and of course, The Final Countdown.
The West End hit has seen so many stars in a variety of roles and the never disappoints. The current cast includes none other than Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy as Dennis Dupree who brings comedy and sentimentality to the piece.
Leading lady, Gabriella Williams as Sherrie is steely and staunch in her quest to be a star, and has a voice to die for, while Sam Turrell plays the role of Drew with grit and determination. His has to be the vocal performance of the night and worth the price of a ticket alone.
Cameron Sharp who hails from Cannock Wood near Lichfield almost steals the show in the role of rock star Stacee Jaxx. His tongue in cheek characterisation is confident, cool, and convincing and although his time on stage is limited, the impact he makes shows experience and flair, but he also excels at the comedic aspect of the character.
From his entrance, Cameron offers superb vocals on the Bon Jovi classic Dead or Alive, and then raises the roof with, Cum on Feel the Noize, the Slade anthem for Wolverhampton! It must feel amazing to present that song in its home city.
Meanwhile Tim Oxbow as the narrator of the show Lonny, is hilarious and very charismatic, interacting with the audience throughout. A lady called Joanna on the front row of the stalls had the best night with Lonny! He does however prove that he is also an incredibly accomplished singer and his duet with Kevin Kennedy in act two, (which believe it or not is REO Speedwagon’s hit, I Can’t Fight This Feeling) is a huge highlight of the show.
A small but exceptionally talented, hardworking ensemble and array of supporting characters complete Rock of Ages and are the backbone of the show.
Nick Winston’s direction is slick and pacy, so the show moves effortlessly from scene to scene, and his choreography is complex in parts for the trained dancers, but simple and effective for the rest of the cast, resulting in some excellent production numbers throughout.
This is a heavy show for the band of course and Musical Director Liam Holmes and his musicians churned out hit after hit with passion, gusto, and sheer talent, recreating the eighties rock sound to perfection. After all, what would this show be with an authentic rock band, and they are the best.
Morgan Large’s set does the job, complete with back projections, although it is hugely enhanced by an excellent lighting plot courtesy of Ben Cracknell, which creates the perfect atmosphere of the seedy Bourbon Club, but also the feel of a huge rock arena.
This is apparently a farewell tour, but I suspect that so great is its popularity, it will not be long before it is revived as soon as audiences are ready to rock once again. Let’s hope so.
Rock of Ages plays until Saturday. Call 01902 429212 or visit grandtheatre.co.uk to book tickets.