Reviewed by Kelly Victoria
Don’t Stop Believin’ that Rock of Ages is going to an absolute smash of a show – as it is and more!
Having heard many good things about this production, my expectations were high and I most definitely was not disappointed. This jukebox musical is filled to the brim with fantastic and well-loved rock songs from the 1980’s. Telling the story of a time on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood when the town was built on drugs, sex and rock and roll – the show was fantastic from start to finish.
Starting with the sound of live musicians strumming guitars and blinding lights, you know you’re going to be in for a treat. The scene is set by Lonny (Joe Gash) who narrates the show throughout with grit and humour.
Sherrie (Gabriella Williams) is a small-town girl who travels to Hollywood to “make it” as an actress and soon meets busboy Drew (Sam Turrell) who has his own dreams of being a rockstar. Instantly falling in love with Sherrie, Drew persuades his boss Dennis Dupree (Kevin Kennedy) to hire her as a waitress.
Meanwhile, German developers have taken over the town, much to the disdain of Regina (Erin Bell), who believes that the people living in the town ‘Built This City on Rock and Roll’ and will do everything in her power to prevent the town being taken down. We’re Not Gonna Take It is the anthem of the townspeople who want to keep their beloved Sunset Strip the home they know and love.
Back at the bar, Stacie Jaxx (Cameron Sharp) a good looking rockstar is bought in to perform and bring in the crowds. Sherrie’s head is soon turned and after a dalliance in the toilets with Jaxx, which Drew witnessed, things start to turn sour. Heartbroken Drew is offered a deal from a record producer and flees instantly. Sherrie’s fate is also doomed as Jaxx forces bar owner Dennis Dupree to fire her.
Sherrie finds herself taken in by strip club owner Justice (Natalie Winsor) and is forced to work as a stripper. Whilst Drew is persuaded to swap his love for rock and roll and form part of an 80’s boy band. Both desperately unhappy, they bump into each other again and realise that they are in love with each other.
The happy news doesn’t end there as Regina builds an endearing and comical relationship with Franz (David Breeds), son of the developer who wants to take over the Strip and working together they are successful in saving the town.
The show ends with the absolute classic Don’t Stop Believin’ which had the whole audience on its feet dancing and clapping. The whole cast received a standing ovation and the atmosphere in the theatre was electric.
Gabriella Williams played Sherrie brilliantly, as though she was born for the role and gave the most incredible vocal performance. Sam Turrell also blew me away with his exceptional vocals and performed Drew in a way that made you instantly fall in love with his character.
A special mention has to go to Erin Bell who played Regina and David Breeds who played Franz. They were endearing, funny and stole the show with their hilarious scene sporting rainbow unitards to ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ – they had the audience belly laughing in their seats.
With high energy choreography, superbly performed by the ensemble and incredible vocals from the entire cast the show was an absolute triumph.
We were treated to a performance which included three swings: Erin Bell who played Regina, Hollie Ann Lowe who played Constance and Morgan Scott who played Joey Primo. They deserve high praise indeed as they were all absolutely fantastic.
The incredibly talented musicians who play live through the show were insane and felt as much a part of the show as the cast.
You don’t have to be a huge rock and roll fan to love this musical. The songs are much loved classics that will have you rocking in your seats. It’s a must watch show, that shouldn’t be missed.
The Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells hosted the show perfectly providing an intimate and well-maintained venue. The staff were all very friendly and the show run like clockwork from start to finish. Staff were there to greet everyone with big smiles on the way out, rounding off a brilliant evening perfectly.
WARNING: This show is an adult show, whilst the age recommendation is 12+, I certainly would not be comfortable with taking a child under the age of 16. There are lots of very sexual references in the show, swearing and imitation of drug taking. This doesn’t take away from the show at all, it simply in my opinion, isn’t suited for younger teens.
The show is on from Wednesday 14th September 2022 until Saturday 17th September 2022
Tickets cost from £34.50 and can be booked by visiting Assembly Hall Theatre — Rock of Ages or phoning the box office on 01892 530613
Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 2LU