ROCK OF AGES, LEEDS GRAND THEATRE
WEDNESDAY 31ST JULY, 2.30PM
**** – 4/5
I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest lover of jukebox musicals. There are a few I enjoy (Jersey Boys, Motown the Musical, Thriller Live, The Band, Let It Be) because I like the artists behind the music but many of them are just not for me. I like musicals to have a plot with a beginning, middle and end but I realise that jukebox musicals are a lot easier to produce!
Having said that, I am a fan of the Rock of Ages movie. It’s not my favourite film musical but it’s not a bad one either (here’s looking at you, Jersey Boys). It has the easy-feel watch to it so you can have it on in the background and guarantee you’ll be singing along at some point.
I was intrigued to see Rock of Ages in Leeds so I took myself out for the day. After pottering about in the shops and treating myself to dinner at Bella Italia, I headed over to the theatre. I have to say that there is just something about older theatres and the Grand Theatre is no exception. This is also the last stop on the tour so I was expecting everything to be smooth and slick.
I did have a cheap seat on the balcony but there were only a few of us up there so I managed to move a few rows forward. I had a great view apart from being unable to see the screen on stage.
THE MAIN CAST
I didn’t know that the plot was significantly different to the film so that confused me and I have to say that I prefer the film’s storyline. In fact, I was offended by the ‘German’ property developers as I thought they could’ve done something less stereotypical. Taking nothing away from Vas Constanti and Andrew Carthy playing father-son duo Hertz and Franz as they were two of the best vocallists but the characters were not for me.
Being a matinee, I expected a couple of cast changes so I got to see Rhiannon Chesterman as Sherrie and Erin Bell as Regina. Both had amazing range but I found their voices rather screechy. It could have been the sound system but from the balcony, it just didn’t sound smooth. Chesterman, however, did play Sherrie perfectly, toying between innocence and sex appeal throughout.
There were some stand-out performers: Luke Walsh’s Drew was played casual and cool. He had a softer rock voice, which suited his character, and his range was impeccable. Boy, can he hold a note! There was also the fantastic Adam Strong as Lonny. I didn’t know that there would be the narrator, which was a great addition. He played it as a mixture of Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-Furter and Cabaret’s Master of Ceremonies. I loved that he played to the audience!
RETURN OF THE 00’s
Then only bloody Curly Watts from Corrie turned up! I didn’t even realise until the interval that Dennis was played by Kevin Kennedy aka Curly! I was unaware that he had such a strong voice. His chemistry with Strong was probably the strongest (haha!) relationship of the show! Zoe Birkett as Justice was also a good casting shout as she had much more of a soulful voice than I remember from her Pop Idol days.
Antony Costa as Stacee Jaxx was an interesting one for me. I’d originally booked because Kevin Clifton had this part but he was only starring on Friday and Saturday so I settled for Costa instead. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know he had that good of a voice considering I was a huge Blue fan (I was a Lee Ryan girl and thought he carried the group vocally) although I’m not sure he played up the character enough. Stacee Jaxx is meant to be the biggest star in the show but he doesn’t get a whole lot of stage time. I did feel like I had been transported back to the early 00s with this cast though!
Some scenes I thought were inapproriate for many of the youngsters in the audience: simulated sex (fully clothed, I will add), pole dancing, some stripping, innuendos. I know the two main settings are a rock club and a gentlemens club and I’m no prude but they could’ve been a little more subtle, a bit much for a Wednesday afternoon.
The choreography was clever and well-suited to the style of music and the ensemble dancers were just as talented too. The women were sexy and crazy flexible whereas the men were strong and gritty. I wish we could’ve seen more of the band instead of being at the back of the stage.
To say that I had a few issues with the show, I did actually enjoy it. Overall, it was pretty slick for the most part and you could tell that the cast were enjoying themselves too. I wish it had come to Hull so I didn’t have to travel as far but a lovely day out in Leeds was had!
Did you see Rock of Ages in Leeds or on the UK tour? What did you think of the production?
Leave me a comment below!