It was time for Darlington to “feel the noize” when “Rock of Ages” took to the stage at the Hippodrome on Monday, October 8th, 2018.
Set in 1987, the smash-hit musical follows Drew (Luke Walsh), who has aspirations of becoming a huge rock star.
While working at The Bourbon, a shabby club on LA’s Sunset Strip, Drew falls in love with fellow wannabe singer, Sherrie (Danielle Hope, who has arrived from Kansas in the hope of pursuing her dreams.
Meanwhile, club owner Dennis (Kevin Kennedy) is fighting to keep the venue open, as German developers, Hertz Klinemann (Vas Constanti) and his son Franz (Andrew Carthy), seek to demolish the bar to make way for clean living.
In order to give the bar a much-needed boost, Dennis seeks help from Stacee Jax, a ladies’ man and the lead singer of a world-famous rock band, who quickly catches the eye of Sherrie, much to Drew’s dismay.
Acting as the glue between the multiple plots is the extremely likeable narrator, Lonny (Lucas Rush), who quickly becomes an audience favourite thanks to his tongue-in-cheek humour and regular interaction with the crowd.
In fact, the whole ensemble has been extremely well cast. “Coronation Street” veteran Kevin Kennedy is perfectly suited to the role of Dennis, having started his career as the bass player for The Smiths, before going on to form his own rock band, Bunch of Thieves.
Darlington’s very own Zoe Birkett dazzles in the role of Justice. Her powerhouse, soulful vocals are fascinating to watch, although disappoingingly under-utilised, as her appearances are very few and far between.
Nevertheless, the main draw of this jukebox musical is, of course, the rock anthems, which the production certainly delivers with instantly recognisable tracks and medleys including “We Built This City”, “The Final Countdown” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling”.
Backed by the brilliant live band on stage, each of the nostalgia-filled classics is brimming with high-energy choreography with flawless vocals to match.
Not only is Rock of Ages jam-packed with music, but there’s also no shortage of humour either, as the laughs come thick and fast.
Whilst there’s an over-reliance on sexual humour and racial stereotypes that soon wears off, it’s the show’s self-awareness which gathers the biggest laughs, particularly with ever-lingering Lonny and nods to the 2012 film (“who would have put Curly Watts in the same casting bracket as Alec Baldwin?”).
If you’re looking for a compelling story with plot twists and in-depth characters, you certainly won’t find it here. Instead, “Rock of Ages” is a feel-good musical that will have the audience air-guitaring in the aisles. In the words of Poison, this is “Nothin’ But A Good Time”.
“Rock of Ages” is at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday, October 8th, 2018 until Saturday, October 13th, 2018.
Tickets can be purchased from the Darlington Hippodrome box office on 01325 405405 or via the website.