I do not know quite where to begin with my review for Rock of Ages at the Garrick Theatre. It’s rather like stepping into a twilight zone of rocking ridiculousness and Poptastic party mayhem! I have come to the conclusion that the writers and the director must have a screw loose – but only in the best way you can possibly imagine. It could be more aptly titled “Carry on Rock Panto Party” as the similarities between it and our beloved British tradition are too many to mention. I smiled and giggled and tapped my toes throughout however.
To single any one cast member as being fantastic would be unfair, because they were all utterly stupendous. The ensemble dancers obviously have some cracking voices amongst them but in my opinion were not given enough opportunity to show them off. They performed with high octane energy and were fabulously full of character and dedicated to their performance. The lead performers provided some of the best vocals I have ever heard live onstage and the onstage chemistry was sparkling between them all. Whilst being spine-tinglingly good, charismatic and captivating in their performances, every single one of them kept their tongues firmly lodged in their cheeks the whole way through, which is where you must keep yours if you are to go and see this show. If you do, you will have a fun-filled evening of entertainment.
BUT, for my taste, hardly any of the numbers hung around for long enough to be fully enjoyed from a musical point of view. I find it patronising to assume that an audience can’t sit and be patient for long enough to hear more than a quarter of a song. It was endlessly frustrating that some of the awesome tunes got cut off just as they were beginning to settle and to be enjoyed, and for me none of the potentially earth shattering and show stopping rock ballads soared enough to be musically pleasing to the ear or the soul, however incredibly performed they were. The songs have had somewhat of a “Glee makeover” and have been made more shiny and shimmery than was originally intended, so all you hard core rock fans out there, don’t expect any grit or dirt in your rock. Some of the farcical moments during excellent classic songs was a tad too far and distracted from the excellence of the music and songwriting craft. One of my favourite moments was the stunning rendition of “High Enough” performed with two spotlights, two lead singers and nothing else.
I highly recommend seeing this show if you are after lots of laughs, silly giggles, fabulous music and earth stunning performances. Enjoy.
Review by Gary Hughes
Updated Friday 25th January 2013