stacee

Kevin Clifton, from BBCs Strictly, rocking along as Stacee Jaxx.

Rock of Ages

Birmingham Alexandra Theatre

*****

Rock of Ages has hardly been off the stage, somewhere in the world, since its inception in 2005.  This jukebox musical featuring some of the most well-known crossover pop rock hits of the 80s, is a full assault of the senses.

Any band that might have been approached by the writer Chris D’Arienzo back then and turned down the opportunity, must be kicking themselves now, as this show continues to keep packing in an international audience.

Featuring rock classics like The Final Countdown by Europe and We built this City by Starship and many more, it guarantees the artists an added line of royalty income.

So, a country girl, Sherrie, heads for the bright lights of LA, arriving at a Rock Club, The Bourbon Room on Sunset strip.  There she meets aspiring rock songwriter Drew. The club is a haven of Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll but becomes the target for redevelopment, in a city clean up, by German developers. The owner Dennis Dupree calls in a last chance favour from rock star Stacee Jaxx to play their final headliner show there, in an effort to save the club from demolition.

Kevin Clifton, from BBCs Strictly, takes on the role of Stacee Jaxx. More famous for his dancing, he surprisingly has a great voice and managed several of these gritty rock anthems extremely well. Disappointingly though there’s not a lot of focus on his dancing abilities as many of the routines are in a full ensemble.

However, this show is not all about one man or the main lead as there are plenty of other fantastic performances. Lonny Barnett the narrator was played by Joe Gash, expertly teasing the audience with his asides and comic sexuality.

The show encourages a fair amount of heckling and he made the most of this on various occasions. Rhiannon Chesterman is Sherrie, the squeaky-clean country girl, awkwardly seduced into the sex and sleaze of Sunset strip. Whilst many of the songs are often just glimpses of the original arrangements, she shows she has a great musical theatre voice in songs like Foreigners, Waiting for a girl like you. Luke Walsh is Drew her love interest and again presented a solid performance if perhaps at times a little too clean for a potential rock club inhabitant.

There were great supporting roles by Ross Dawes as club owner Dennis Dupree and Vas Constanti and Andrew Carty as property developers Hertz and Franz, the German father and son team with plans to take a wrecking ball to the Sunset Strip. Gabriella Williams as city conservator Regina was delightfully wacky and Jenny Fitzpatrick as Justice, the owner of the Venus Strip club, used her powerful soul voice to draw rounds of applause from the fully covid tested audience.  

At times it all felt a bit like Benny Hill on steroids, a reference there for more mature readers, as it is packed with suggestive sleaze, revealing  leather and lace, and all set to a driving rock beat.  But thankfully so, as the show still retains every nugget of sexual innuendo and political uncorrectness one hopes for in a rock and roll environment. While the wagging finger of cancel culture and political correctness seeks to sterilise the sense out of many productions, Rock of Ages is a power chord of plain good old sexy fun. May the tour bus Rock and Roll, on and on and on and on. Climb aboard as soon as you can. To 11-09-21

Jeff Grant

10-09-21 

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