Review Garry West Ballarat Lyric Theatre’s 2016 spectacular Rock Of Ages plays at Her Majesty’s theatre until Sunday. It is a fabulous night’s entertainment. Leather pants, Lycra, crazy hair styles, brilliant cast, amazing pyrotechnics and stacks of wax featuring some of the greatest hits of the 80s.
Director Stephen O’Neill who has become one of the states finest directors, has another success here with this Broadway hit musical. The story is a little insignificant as the musical performances are the major attraction. The show is also quite different to the movie and frankly some of the performances are better here in Ballarat.
In Rock of Ages, we meet Sherrie, a young woman from Kansas, who’s just arrived in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming of actress. She soon meets Drew an aspiring rock musician who’s been in LA for a while and works as a barman at The Bourbon Room, run by Dennis and his offsider Lonny. Sherrie starts working there too, as a waitress, and Drew and Sherrie soon discover they have feelings for each other. Enter the charismatic rock star Stacee Jaxx who will be performing with his band Arsenal for the last time at The Bourbon Room before they go their separate ways. In the interim, Dennis and Lonny have major problems as German property developer Hertz and his son Franz have talked the city’s Mayor into a redevelopment that will see the Bourbon Room demolished much to the disapproval of Regina, the City Planner, along with the nearby strip joint, the Venus Club, which would also be in serious danger if the Germans’ get their way of turning the area into a shopping Mall. The 80s in LA was a time of long hair, lip gloss, tight pants and they rocked so hard they passed out on Sunset Boulevard without a care in the world! It was also a time for some of the of greatest rock music ever. Classics like “I Want to Know What Love Is”, “High Enough”, “The Final Countdown”, “We Built This City”, “More Than Words” I Can’t Fight This Feeling and many others by hit rockers including Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Poison, Starship and Pat Benatar. The music is presented in various medley forms and played by some excellent local musicians Adam Cameron, Dave Clark, Jason Hubble, Lyndon Kriss and Shane Pearson.
The music directed by Andy McCalman is Hot, Hot, Hot while the Choreography by the brilliant David Harford assisted by Vanessa Belsar is a tremendous asset to the whole show. They are supported by the highest quality lighting, sound, pyrotechnics and video I’ve seen in a while. From the opening number the high energy never stops and it’s like going to the biggest party in town. Most of the impressive ensemble company have their starring parts in movement and song with the principal cast out front shining like beacons in the night. Erin Shay is perfect as Sherrie, her multi talents shine in everything she does. Equally Joshua McGuane as Drew sings up a storm and is perfect for the role.
Keith McNamara plays the narrator and part owner of the Bourbon Club. This is Keith at his best. Acting, singing and presentation is first class. David Harford as the legendary Stacee Jaxx is far better than Tom Cruise ever was in the movie. David is such a polished performer. Abigail Grace uses her body, vocals and acting to deliver a very funny Regina along with Geordie Worland as the German businessman Hertz. Both are also excellent singers. Stephen Armati plays the co owner of the Bourbon Room, Dennis is underplayed at times in what is a very difficult role. He particularly shines in the second half. Reuben Morgan is the Germans son, Franz and plays the character to the hilt. Susan Jackson as the owner of the opposition Venus club for men, is strong giving an even performance. Matt Mercer as the Mayor and Daniel Lamech as the producer deliver smooth performances while Siobhan Heenan and the Venus Club dancers along with the Bourbon room boys and protesters all make the show the success it is.
There is also a new treat for theatregoers with Pole Dancers Victoria Rosewarne and Shae Niehus doing amazing things. There is plenty of hilarious sexual innuendo in the dialogue and the show is not suitable for children. Rock Of Ages is a rock concert, stage show, juke box musical and love story all in one. What more could you ask for. Performances are Tonight, Friday and Saturday with two matinees’ over the weekend. Bookings online at hermaj.com or at the box office.