Despite a brilliant band, some great actors and all its good intentions, Gwen Pew can’t help but feel that Rock of Ages falls somewhat short of its lofty rock ‘n’ roll aspirations.
22 Aug 2014: It was supposed to be a great night out. The stage was already set when we walked into the theatre, and a soundtrack was blasting ’80s rock ‘n’ roll to get us in the mood. But then, as we inched closer to the starting time, it soon became apparent that the handful of us there – we barely filled up a quarter of the 1,600-seater space – were all that’s going to show up. Granted, it was a Tuesday evening, and Resorts World Theatre is technically speaking off the mainland so perhaps it’s a bit inconvenient to get to, but still.
The small turn out would have been fine if it were a cosy sort of show, but Rock of Ages isn’t one of those. To their credit, the band – which remains onstage throughout the entire performance – really did try their best to fill out the echoey space, but as a result of that (and the fact that sound guys didn’t adjust their levels properly), they also ended up drowning out most of the singing.
The main plot follows a small town Kansan girl called Sherrie (Shannon Mullen) who moves to Los Angeles to become an actress, and meets a rockstar-wannabe, Drew (Dominique Scott), at a bar called The Bourbon Room on the famously colourful Sunset Strip. The two instantly fall in love, but of course, life and miscommunication get in the way of them being together for most of the show. There is definitely chemistry between the pair, but Mullen tries a tad too hard at times, while Scott could have stood out a lot more – he has a great singing voice, but we only get glimpses of his potential at certain points. Joshua Hobbs plays the role of the sleazy rockstar Stacee Jaxx brilliantly, and Kadejah Onè has a booming voice as The Venus Club’s Mama Justice. But without a doubt the biggest star of the show is Justin Colombo as the nunchucks-wielding Lonny, The Bourbon Room’s second in charge, and the narrator. Donning a variety of hilarious t-shirts – including one that says ‘Hooray for Boobies’ – he has perfected the subtle art of comedy, and breaks the fourth wall ever so naturally.
And if the story itself is somewhat flimsy, the choreography made up for it: and the dancers are focussed, synchronised – and hot. Coupled with a relatively simple but visually stunning set and atmospheric lighting, they really did bring out the character of The Strip.
The final song that the show concluded with is Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin”, and we have hope that maybe it was just a bad night: after all, like a rock concert, Rock of Ages is a musical that requires a full house to shine. With the right crowd and some of the technical creases ironed out, we suspect that it can be great, but while there wasn’t anything detrimentally wrong with it, the performance that we caught was unfortunately by and large uninspiring.