Grab Your Air Guitar: Rock of Ages Hits Birmingham

It is the raunchiest, cheesiest, loudest musical of them all, and Rock of Ages has now come to Birmingham and is once again making the second city gasp at its sheer outrageousness.. Full of more grown men in neon and spandex than should ever be acceptable, the musical that takes a tongue in cheek look at all those 1980s rock classics opened last night at Birmingham’s The Alexandra, and made sure that the audience left the theatre singing Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ all the way home.

Rock Of Ages Production Photos
©The Other Richard

The story is fairly simple – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, and they all live happily ever after. So far, so predictable. But add the element that it’s the girl who loses boy after she has wild toilet cubicle sex with a bona-fide rock god called Stacee Jaxx (Axl Rose surely), hilariously played to perfection by Sam Ferriday, and we start to get a twist on the story. Add in further developments of the leading man joining a New Kids on the Block Style band, and a couple of hilarious cartoon Germans trying to destroy the Sunset Strip where all the action takes place, but being foiled by the sassy Regina (Rhiannon Chesterman – perfect) and you have a raucous, fun, ball of energy that can’t fail to entertain.

The music is like a who’s who of 80s rock, with the tunes coming thick and fast. Whitesnake, Starship, Pat Benatar, Poison, REO Speedwagon and Journey are all represented. Standout tracks include Whitesnake’s ‘Here I go again’ and Posion’s ‘Every Rose has it’s thorn’ both delivered by the ensemble with passion and verve, especially by Zoe Birkett as Justice with a voice that can only be described as incredible.

One of the things that makes this such a great night is the cast’s obvious enjoyment in the show. The narrator Lonny (a standout performance from the charismatic crowd pleaser Lucas Rush) has such fun ad-libbing and connecting with the audience, whilst the young stars Luke Walsh and Danielle Hope are suitably sweet and winsome, but show a tougher edge as the musical turns darker. The already mentioned Sam Ferriday is superb as the debauched Stacee Jaxx, a raddled mixture of Dave Lee Roth and David Coverdale, wearing those skintight white pants and Axl Rose  withair h aplomb and turning in a scene stealing performance. Coronation Street Legend Kevin Kennedy is also superb, showing his class as Dennis with a series of knowing one liners. His scene with Lonny when they sing the REO Speedwagon classic ‘Can’t fight this feeling’ is the funniest scene in the whole show, saying something in a show that is full of them.

Rock of Ages is the ultimate fun night out for those who never travel without their air guitar.

It runs at the The Alexandra until Saturday 17th November. For ticket information visit  www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/

New Year New You – Start with some classic films.

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January is such a dark, drab and depressing month. Money is often in short supply after the excess of Christmas, days are short, nights are dark, and sometimes, going out in the evening is something best avoided. In short, January is the perfect time to discover some classic films, and movie musicals offer the perfect ‘pick me up’ way to avoid those Winter Blues.

I love a good movie musical, the sort of film that always has a happy ending, is full of singalong moments, and has characters that you are willing to succeed and find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I have so many musical favourites, but I am going to share a few of them with you, along with one that I haven’t seen yet, but have added to my watch list for 2017.

Rock of Ages

This is one of those occasions where the movie is better than the stage musical version. With a score of unforgettable 80s rock classics and Julianne Hough as a likeable leading lady, and Catherine Zeta Jones in a totally unexpected role, Rock of Ages is fabulous, spandex rocking, fright wig wearing, bad taste fun. I love it!

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Exactly what it says on the packet, and best avoided if you are looking for a feminist movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a 1950s treat. Seven Brothers, led by Howard Keel, decide the time has come to take a wife, and so kidnap seven brides, including Jane Powell. This is the most exuberant of all musicals, with incredible dance sequences that still take the breathe away. A classic.

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High Society

Another in my list of all time favourite musicals, High Society is the musical version of The Philedelphia Story, starring an exquisitely beautiful Grace Kelly as spoilt heiress Tracy Lord, engaged to be married to a new beau, but possibly still carrying a torch for her ex husband Bing Crosby. The songs in this one, including the dreamy ‘True Love’ and the sparkling Cole Porter number ‘Well, did you Evah’ are sublime, and the whole spectacle is just beautiful.

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Singin’ in the Rain

Probably the best musical of all time, and ranking highly in lists of the greatest films of all time too, Singin’ in the Rain is a bonafide masterpiece. Telling the story of the start of the talkie movies, it has it all, from a formidable leading man in Gene Kelly, the brilliant Debby Reynolds as the sparky ingenue destined to be a star, and hilariously funny support from Jean Hagan and Donald O Connor (try keeping your face straight during ‘Make Em Laugh’). Singin’ in the Rain is the musical by which all others must be judged. If you haven’t seen it, why not?

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And one I’ve yet to see…

Jersey Boys

The stage version of Jersey Boys is one of my favourites, and as the film version is directed by Clint Eastwood, I really want to see this. Jersey Boys is the story of The Four Seasons, led by Frankie Valli, and their rise to fame in the early 1960s. The memorable songs like Sherry, Walk like a Man and Big Girls Don’t Cry make this a cinematic treat to savour.

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If you like the sound of any of these musicals, you can find more information here.

For a chance to win all five of my chosen films, you can enter using the entry form below.
5 Classic Films DVD Competition