THE atmosphere was as electric as the sound last night at the Bristol Hippodrome, as Rock of Ages bounced into the city with a whole lot of attitude – and a whole lot of hair!
Having seen (and been none too impressed by) the film, my expectations for the show were pretty low. However, an impressive set and even more impressive casting meant that it took mere minutes before I was hooked (getting Whitesnake’s David Coverdale to do the ‘phone off’ announcements at the start of the show was simply genius).
Set to a background of Los Angeles in the late eighties (ish), this is really just a vehicle to get some really great power ballads and rock anthems into a musical. True, there isn’t much of a plot, but it really doesn’t matter.
The casting is spot on, led by former Hear’Say vocalist Noel Sullivan and Ben Richards, who like every single one of last night’s cast put their heart and soul into the performance – and it shows. Impressive, powerful vocals are a must in this show, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
A personal favourite has to be Stephen Rahman-Hughes, playing Lonny (aka The Narrator), whose comedy timing was absolutely spot-on throughout the show and whose double act with Daniel Fletcher (as Dennis Dupree) in ‘I can’t fight this feeling’ was the best dance I’ve seen on the Hippodrome stage since Mickey Dolenz and Michael Ball in Hairspray.
Atmospheric lighting adds to the overall effect of a brilliant set designed by Beowulf Borrit, with video projections by Zachary Borovay, to take the audience instantly into context, and the live band who stay at the back of the stage throughout the performance are simply brilliant. And as for some of the costumes… well, let’s just say there were a few occasions where less was most certainly more.
The set list includes songs from David Lee Roth, Poison, Starship, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, Extreme, Warrant, Pat Benatar, Survivor and Journey, to name just a few, but even if you didn’t rock your way through the eighties, you can’t help but love these tunes.
This isn’t one for the ‘purists’ as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it is fun, fun, fun all the way.
Rock of Ages is at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 12 July (age guide 14+)