21st Century Hobart is as far removed from the LA nightlife of the late 1980s as it is from Broadway, which was home to Rock of Ages for seven years. But with timeless classics, such as Don’t Stop Believing, I Love Rock n Roll, and, We Built this City, and a message that resonates across generations, ‘Rock of Ages is’ “Nothin’ but a good time”.
The Theatre Royal is nothing like you’d expect it to be. “Royal” conjures to mind images of grandeur, and class. Forget that – It’s a cesspool of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
The Theatre is currently hosting big hair, big “boobies” and big sound in Rock of Ages as presented by John X.
The scene is set by a character of uncertain sobriety, Lonny Barnett, who is both narrator, and the soundie at the infamous Bourbon Room. The Bourbon Room might be LA’s best music venue, but in 1987 rock is on its way out, and those with big dreams of finding fame, money, and women in the Bourbon are out of luck.
The failing club is due to be demolished by a couple of German property developers who have the mayor in their pockets. The mayor’s (ex) assistant is on the case though, Regina won’t let the proletariats get their hands on the last of the Sunset Strip.
But, as Lonny reminds us, no musical is complete without a love story and so we are introduced to wannabe rocker Drew, and aspiring actress Sherrie. Their road to a happy ending is rocky; filled with bumps such as a famous rockstar, a money-grubbing manager, and strippers.
Rock of Ages is first and foremost a comedy. Amongst the crude humour are genuinely funny moments, such as the delightful twist of the ‘token gay character’ turning out to be “not gay, Just German!”
The cast was spectacular, respecting each of the classics they were performing; effortlessly capturing the true essence of the rock ‘n’ roll spirit. The band were exceptionally talented, and had their time to shine in the ‘encore’ performance of I Love Rock n Roll, shredding out solos with apparent ease but perfect skill.
Beneath all the hair and the glitter, Rock of Ages teaches us that sometimes you leave home in search of a dream, but you might just realise you had a different dream all along.