Rock of Ages returns to Edinburgh, hair quaffed and ready to rock, with their classic love story, giving the middle finger to pretending to be anything more than a silly romp that enjoys mocking musical clichés whilst belting out, epically, over 25 classic anthems.
Innocent Kansas gal Sherrie (Danielle Hope) heads for LA, determined to be an actress and meets wannabe Rock Star Drew (Luke Walsh) at the Bourbon Club, under threat of demolishment by (literal) goose-stepping property developers Hertz Kunemann (Vas Constanti) and Franz (Andrew Carthy). Club owner Dennis Dupree (Kevin Kennedy) may be crusty but he’s not going down without a fight, enlisting current Rock God Stacey Jaxx (Antony Costa) to play the bar, whose arrival changes everything.
Elements of the musical could be considered problematic, with high camp disguising soft core smut, and offensive, with women, homosexuals and Germans the punchlines. Previous productions have more successfully executed layers of emotion and subtlety from this by-the-numbers jukebox musical, yet Nick Winston’s direction and choreography, whilst on point, is played for laughs, rarely coming down from an eleven.
Despite this, the soundtrack is so good, cleverly merging brilliant songs, such as More Than Words (Extreme), To Be with You (Mr. Big) and Heaven (Warrant) for overarching narratives and thrilling vocals harmonies, as well as allowing individual songs to electrify with ensemble numbers, keeping the eye agog amidst shredding harmonies.
The cast relish their roles, with everyone comfortable in their characters and delivering with everything they’ve got, allowing for a few rough around the edges moments to be overlooked by an audience transported in the moment, disengaging from reality for a good time.
Nobody deserves a special shout out beyond their cast members, yet a mention must be given to Lucas Rush’s Lonny, the lynchpin of getting the audience onside and setting the tone – who didn’t disappoint with his falsetto either – and this reviewer never thought that Curly Watts off of Coronation Street would cause her jaw to hit the floor with a surprisingly brilliant turn.
If you need to escape, this cheese fest will have you motoring in no time, guaranteed to lift your spirits, as long as you Don’t Stop Believin’… and ignore the almost constant presence of suggested fellatio.
Plays at Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 4 May.
0844 871 3014