REVIEW: Rock of Ages @ The Opera House, Manchester

I don’t really know where to start with this review of hit musical Rock of Ages which returns to Manchester this week, taking us back to an era of big hair, dodgy taste and even dodgier social attitudes.

Do I start with the the impressive performances by a strong cast that belted out a host of classic rock numbers, or the the laughs from a string of jokes varying in quality, or the shudderingly cringeworthy inappropriate references which probably should have remained in the eighties.

I’ll start with the performances. There is no doubting this production brings together an array of talent to deliver those Whitesnake, Journey and Foreigner songs in a story – such as it is – of a small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew drawn together at the Bourbon music club on LA’s Sunset Strip.

If it’s original and incisive story-telling you’re after, you’ll be disappointed. The story, involving a love triangle between Sherrie, Drew and debauched rock star Stacee Jaxx; and a wicked property developer threatening future of the Bourbon Club, is a vehicle for the rock songs in this juke box musical.

But it has to be said, no-one can fault the musical talent on show. Danielle Hope’s Sherrie is excellent and Luke Walsh as Drew certainly shows he can hold a note and rock with the best of them. Lucas Rush delivers his role well as the narrator, holding everything together.

The show cleverly sends itself up, referring disparagingly to the film the show is based on, and this goes some way to papering over some of the dodgy aspects of the script.

But there are a number of moments where I genuinely cringed and thought “did I just hear that?” There were the over-sexualised dance numbers and lines and scenes which in the light of #metoo should have been revamped for a new era.

They could be forgiven had it been satirical or cleverer, but unfortunately this show has none of that, and on the day when Bill Cosby was sentenced for his exploits as a sexual predator, making jokes about a rock star paedophile on the run and hiding out in South America is probably not the best idea.

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