Rock of Ages at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

7-11 May 2019


Reviewed by Janine Rumble

Rock of Ages is an amazing, high energy, feel good, laugh out loud, sing along, clap along, look at your neighbour in shock at times, smile and stamp your feet in time to the music, one of a kind, musical, dubbed ‘the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll musical’. If you are looking for a fun way to spend an evening being entertained at the theatre, then this is the show for you. I loved every second of it, from the debauched start to the standing on my feet, singing and clapping along finale.

Having never seen the film, ‘Rock of Ages’, I did not know what to expect and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about what I witnessed tonight, a highly energetic, debauched at times, rock extravaganza, or as Lucas Rush as Lonny (the narrating genius) described it, ‘a pantomime on acid’.

Rock of Ages is set in the 1980’s and tells the love story of Drew, played by Luke Walsh, a wannabe rock star working at ‘The Bourbon Room’ on LA’s famous Sunset Strip and new to the city country girl Sherrie, played by Jodie Steele. It follows the trials and tribulations of their relationship, including her meeting rock God Stacee Jaxx, played by Antony Costa, and how their lives are interlinked with the characters on Sunset Strip, including Dennis, the ageing rocker owner of The Bourbon Room, played by Kevin Kennedy (aka Curly Watts from Corrie) and Justice, the owner of Venus, the gentleman’s club, played by Zoe Birkett and the variety of different characters who frequent both establishments. It also tells of the struggle they face when German father and son duo, Hertz, played by Adam Strong and his son Franz, played by Andrew Carthy, decide to knock down the buildings on Sunset Strip to build new buildings in their place. Thus ensues protests by Regina, played by Rhiannon Chesterman, and others to try to save the buildings on Sunset Strip. All of this is set to high octane, floor shaking, foot tapping, hand clapping rock music of the era played live by the band Liam Holmes on keyboard, Drew Lowe and Marc Le Guerranic on guitars, Elliot Mason on bass guitar and Vito Guerrieri on drums.

Rock of Ages really must be seen to be believed, but it is not suitable for under 14s. It is lewd, rude and shockingly crude, if you are easily shocked, or a bit of a prude, then this is not the show for you.

It is non-stop from beginning to end and actors are amazing, not only do they act, but their singing is truly amazing (who knew Curly Watts could sing?) and their dance skills were astonishing, if a little risqué in places. I was in awe at how they kept the high energy throughout the performance, they all looked like they were having a great time and the party atmosphere was infectious and spread into the audience.

It really was like a pantomime on acid, with lots of hilarious interactions with the audience ‘What happened to Audrey???’ from Lucas Rush, who played Lonny and narrated much of the show. He was just brilliant, with the cheeky looks, innuendos, eye rolls and tongue wiggling, he had me in stitches throughout from the moment he walked out with his Christmas cracker 80’s style moustache, to his demonstrative admiration of an audience member by rubbing his chest suggestively to his monologues, all the way to the grand finale. All the cast members were amazing and were on stage for most of the time, there was always something happening on stage and whilst the main characters were doing their bit, something else was happening in the corner or to the side, or up in the rigging (shocking things at times!). There was always something to see and sometimes it was difficult to focus on one part of the stage as I knew I would be missing something funny, lewd, crude, rude etc happening on another part of the stage.

The stage itself was very simple, great big walls of speakers and small sets that slid on and off the stage to represent the doors to both establishments and the establishments themselves. In the centre, above the stage was a big screen that showed various clips of Sunset Strip through the decade, including movie posters from the time to show the progress of time. In the centre of the stage was the band. Around the stage was steel rigging with lights attached, making you feel like you were at an actual rock concert, amazing.

All combined, there was an amazing atmosphere in the theatre and at the finale, most people were on their feet, singing and clapping along with the cast.

You must go and see this show. I give it a rating of 5 stars and I would give it more if I could. I’m off to buy tickets so I can go and see it again, it was that good. I have never been to a show where I wanted to see it again and that is the beauty of it, a nice love story, crazy characters, stunning singers, amazing music and a touch of nostalgia, makes for a great night out.

The Royal & Derngate is a lovely theatre perfectly situated in the middle of Northampton town centre. It is easy to get to and parking is just yards down the road. The staff are always nice, polite and helpful. The shop and bars cater for all tastes, at reasonable prices. The facilities are clean and tidy, as is the theatres themselves. Access for disabled persons is brilliant as well.

As always, I enjoyed my visit to the theatre and cannot recommend ‘Rock of Ages’ highly enough. Go buy your tickets now to find out what happens to Drew and Sherrie, do they make it in the world of LA? What happens to ‘The Bourbon Room’ and ‘Venus’? Do they get saved or do they get bulldozed? What happens to the other characters? Go see the show and find out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £19 (booking fees may apply).

Rock of Ages is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 7-11 May 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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