Rock of Ages at The Regent Theatre staring Strictly’s Kevin Clifton

Grab your leather jackets and chunky boots and get yourself down to The Regent Theatre this week to see Rock of Ages.

The jukebox musical is risqué from the second Lonny – superbly played by Joe Gash – steps onto the stage. Set on sunset strip in the mid-late 80s, the classic girl meets boy love story is laced with over 25 classic rock anthems, like The Final Countdown, Here I Go Again and We Built This City.

Many people moved to LA to make their dreams come true, to make it big – be it an actress like Sherrie, or a rock artist like Drew. But one thing is constant – The Bourbon Room – where everyone feels at home and welcome. That is until a duo of German’s wish to tear down the strip for development – a storyline those who’ve seen Burlesque with Cher and Xtina will be familiar with.

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Lonny not only finds himself as the shows most charming bartender, but the narrator of the show, breaking the fourth wall to encourage audience participation. But be warned, avoid sitting front and centre unless you fancy being the butt of his jokes and sexual fantasies for the evening – poor Naomi. It must be said, though, that this role was made for Joe Gash, who steps into the role with an air of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow meets brash Russell Brand.

Read more: 8 reasons to watch the Christmas panto at The Regent Theatre

His extravagant persona, he jokes, ‘carries the weight of the whole show on his back’, but it’s his vocal range that was even more impressive and somewhat understated. I’d have loved to hear more of his vocals, but his duet of Can’t Fight This Feeling with Dennis Dupree (Ross Dawes) was phenomenal. It’s also one of many laugh out loud moments where the lovable pair, with a clear on-stage bromance, crack themselves up laughing they momentarily break character.

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On a vocal note – pardon the pun – the cast have a brilliant chemistry and stunning vocal qualities that compliment one another. Loved up duo Sherrie and Drew – played by Rhiannon Chesterman and Luke Walsh – had really strong, powerful vocals, with Sherrie’s unusual tone harmonising with Drew’s in duets like Waiting for a Girl Like You and The Search is Over. And boy, can Luke Walsh hold a note!

Read more: Grease the Musical at The Regent Theatre

Regina – an activist protesting the demolition of the strip – comes into her own in Not Gonna Take It with rocky growls and a raspy quality, which is also seen in the more mature voice of Ross, playing Dennis. But the voice that surprised us the most was Strictly Come Dancing pro Kevin Clifton, who plays narcissistic frontman Stacee Jaxx, who manipulates Sherrie, leading to the collapse of hers and Drew’s barely budding romance.

The four-times glitterball champion made a heartfelt speech at the end of the show about the effect the pandemic has had on the arts industry, but Rock of Ages reminds audiences that theatre is, as he put it, ‘well and truly back’.

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The love story comes with a message of there being consequences when you fail to say what you’re really feeling, intelligently told through guilty-pleasure rock tracks. The smash hit musical is the 27th longest running show in Broadway histroy, having employed nearly 4,000 people throughout the years.

Read more: Seven must-watch shows at The Regent Theatre in 2021

I did feel, at times, the show felt a little regressive in terms of some jokes taken too far – it was sprinkled with misogyny and, even I found the choreography – whilst expertly executed – might have been on the vulgar side, and I lost count of how many pairs of underwear I saw. That said, it’s the kind of satirical show you do have to take with a pinch of salt, and it certainly didn’t ruin the fact it was an all round high-energy, absurdly entertaining performance. Rock of Ages is risqué and roll. Playful and provocative, this jukebox musical is a must-watch for 80s rock music lovers.

Rock of Ages is being performed at The Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday, November 6. Tickets can be purchased at ATG Tickets, or by calling the box office on 0844 871 7615. And if you simply can’t get enough of Kevin Clifton, you can catch his Burn The Floor ballroom production at The Regent this January, too.

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