Cinema-goers who caught the 2012 movie version of Rock Of Ages, starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones, will know exactly what to expect from this feelgood musical.

For those who didn’t and therefore don’t, it focuses on the romance between a small-town girl and a big-city rocker, and is packed to its proverbial rafters with classic 1980s numbers. So if you’re someone for whom the decade of Glasnost, yuppies, Miami Vice and mullet hair-dos took place against a soundtrack of pounding rock anthems, this is the show for you. Songs include We Built This City, Here I Go Again, I Want To Know What Love Is and The Final Countdown.

Are you ready to rock? asks the huge screen atop the stage for jukebox musical Rock of Ages. And you’d better be ready to rock, because this rip-roaring show is jam-packed full of classic 80s tunes guaranteed to have you clapping and singing along.

Taking the audience back to a time of big hair and even bigger dreams, Rock of Ages follows the story of aspiring actress Sherrie (Rhiannon Chesterman) and hopeful rockstar Drew (Luke Walsh). There are plenty of twists along the way, as our protagonists learn to navigate the cut-throat culture of Sunset Strip.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton takes on the role of arrogant superstar, Stacee Jaxx, who’s womanising tendencies throw a spanner in the works for Sherrie and Drew. We all know that Kevin can dance - although we don’t get to see much of his moves in this particular show - but did you know that he can sing? And I mean really sing. His voice is powerful and controlled, his talent best showcased in a rendition of I Want to Know What Love Is.

The entire cast put on a spectacular performance, but Joe Gash as the flirtatious Lonny deserves a special mention. He’s hilariously naughty and breaks the fourth wall at just the right moments, making for a perfect narrator, or, as he puts it ‘dramatic conjurer’.

Combining romance and activism, there’s never a dull moment on the set of Rock of Ages - especially with over 25 iconic rock songs thrown in. Top hits We Built This City, The Final Countdown and Dead or Alive all feature and the cast’s rendition of Here I Go Again stands out as a particularly electrifying number - as well as the final song, Don’t Stop Believin’.

Pulled together with Ben Cracknell’s exhilarating lighting design and Morgan Large’s industrial style set, Rock Of Ages perfectly recreates the atmosphere of a rock bar where the toilets might be a severe health hazard but you know you’re about to be shown a good time.

While the plot may be, for the most part, ancillary to the music, Rock of Ages is an uplifting, energetic musical that will have you wishing you were rocking out on stage with the cast and smiling the whole way through.

Reviewed by Ellie Hutchings

5 Stars on Sat, 11 Sep 2021

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