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by Nathan Pierce
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Big hair and big rock anthems make for plenty of fun at the West End’s new jukebox musical
There are many quite obvious criticisms I could make about Rock of Ages.
The script is deeply dubious, the songs and acting intensely cheesy, the premise is weak, underlying themes are strongly misogynistic and terribly stereotypical and the whole thing has a strong whiff of Glee about it.
But while all these things are true, it is also an awful lot of fun.
This show is high energy from the off. Simon Lipkin steals the show as the narrator, providing the majority of the show’s comedy moments. The show starts as it finishes and once you have laughed at the over-the-top lighting and very revealing costumes, you’re pretty much hooked.
Justin Lee Collins was refreshing, even though it took him until the second half to really get going. And Shayne Ward was solid as the troubled rock star.
They could, however, do more to engage the audience earlier on in the performance. It wasn’t until the end that the audience were really getting involved.
Secondly the song choice was very American. Only fans of LA 80’s rock will know all the songs, which admittedly do work, but for an English audience I felt they could have shoehorned in some Def Leppard or Iron Maiden somewhere.
There is nothing challenging about this show, or deep or insightful. It makes a commentary of sorts, but it is so riddled with cliché that you largely ignore it.
But it has energy, good looking boys, scantily clad girls, guitars, rock and alcohol. It is silly and fun, with lights and sparkle and you will leave happy (although you can’t get the final song out of your head for days).
* Rock of Ages is showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2, until at least October 2012.
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