Musical theatre is a big part of my life and something I’m kind of a little bit in love with. From the classics like Les Mis to more modern productions like Dear Evan Hanson, give me some jazz hands and impromptu cheer and I’m there. So, of course, I was very excited to see that Rock of Ages The Musical was coming to The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.
The Belgrade is the closest theatre to my hometown and is in fact the largest professional theatre in Coventry. It hosts a variety of productions throughout the year from children’s shows to comedy and musicals (obviously). I hadn’t visited The Belgrade before and I was surprised firstly that the auditorium itself is quite small but secondly how professional it all still felt in comparison to larger theatres and shows I’ve been to see!
But less about the theatre, let’s get to the show…
Rock of Ages The Musical tells the story of Drew and Sherrie, two aspiring teens who have travelled to LA to find their fame and fortune. If you are thinking the show will be like the 2012 film starring Tom Cruise and Russell Brand then you are very much mistaken.
Rock Of Ages The Musical has a humour somewhere between pantomime and slapstick, with a definite adult theme. To be honest, it’s very raunchy, almost to the point of being uncomfortable. From the very first scene there’s women in their underwear, the simulation of a whole variety of sex acts, and enough innuendos to go around. At one point, there was a dildo and it all got pretty weird… I can see why other reviews have marked it is distasteful and derogatory but from my understanding this is true to the original script and in my opinion, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Rock Of Ages The Musical is so far from the whimsical love story you think it should be and often breaks the fourth wall to poke fun at itself, it’s characters and the stereotypes within the story-line.
I would say this was a fairly small production compared to what I usually go and see. Despite starring Strictly legend Kevin Clifton, for me the show struggled to grasp that seamless “West End” feel. Don’t get me wrong, it was very well produced and staged, but there were moments where it lost the magic for me – but perhaps being the rebellious show that it is, it didn’t want to convey that!
Onto the cast. I must say for starters that everyone involved in this production was incredible. I think being in quite a small theatre really benefited their voices as everyone sounded so powerful and emotive – you really felt it! Even Kevin Clifton, who I was slightly apprehensive about, has got a really good voice in him! For me, my stand out performers were Lucas Rush playing Lonny and Jodie Steele playing Sherrie. I can only describe Rush as an absolute icon. He was the perfect narrator, guiding the story whilst engaging the audience and interacting at every opportunity. For me, Rush WAS the humour in this production – with the voice and the moves to really solidify his character and place on the stage. Steele for me was also a great casting choice. She has enough innocence and vulnerability to carry the love story but in the raunchier scenes, there was no holding back and she showed that grit and determination that Shelley’s character is known for. Steele‘s voice was stunning; she held top notes with amazing strength and could always be heard as part of the ensemble.