★★★★★ Rock of Ages
Kevin Clifton gave an impassioned closing speech at the opening night of Rock of Ages where his message was simple – don’t stop believing, theatre is back with a bang after a tawdry eighteen months, and safe in the hands of this decidedly boisterous, upfront and joyous production!
Directed and choreographed by the always-superb Nick Winston, Rock of Ages is loud, camp, outrageous, fun and a lot more beside. It features knockout performances from a truly superlative ensemble and, if last night was anything to go by, on top form!
Featuring a songbook of over twenty rock classics/bangers, the heart and soul of this show is pulsating even as you take your seats. There is a pent up anticipation in the audience palpably fit to bust! The fourth wall is quickly smashed as Joe Gash (Lonny) plays a rock emcee with vivacity, cheeky charm, jazz hands and underlying danger as he encourage the audience to say hello to the person next to them – panto comes early to Wimbledon. To my surprise it was friend and theatre director Racky Plews – masks do have a use!
But back to the plot, for what it’s worth, as we discover a group of show-biz aspirants trying to make it in that business known as show - whether as a singer/songwriter or taciturn stripper. Over laced in this nefarious mix are the wicked property developers who are trying to grapple people’s questionable careers, livings and ultimately property from them. Simply add the multifarious relationship confusion to the jumble and the stage is set!
Kevin Clifton as rock god Stacee Jaxx demonstrates that there’s plenty more than a few Strictly dance moves to this man’s repertoire – boy, can he sing too! Luke Walsh as Drew, a barman with ambitions to be a rock singer is stunning with a phenomenal range, amply demonstrated with the wealth of material in this endlessly-challenging repertoire. He is also joined by Rhiannon Chesterman as Sherrie in some breathtaking, knockout duets!
Comedy is cleverly brought by Andrew Carthy as Franz and Vas Constani as Hetz, our European property developers, ostentatiously camp and with some decidedly scene-stealing moments.
Ultimately, it’s the songbook and the undoubted quality of the vocals that drives this production. Songs like Don’t Stop Believin’, The Final Countdown, Waiting For A Girl Like You, I Want To Know What Love and many more don’t come easy but are in the safest of hands. This is without a doubt an ensemble on top form.
Glad to have theatre back!
New Wimbledon Theatre
Tue 21 Sep - Sat 25 Sep 2021
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG, UK
2 hours 35 minutes incl. interval
Tue - Sat at 19:30
Thu and Sat at 14:30 and 19:30