Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages UK Tour ©The Other Richard

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer Nikki Cotter

Big hair, big laughs and even bigger voices, Rock of Ages is lewd, loud and most definitely proud!

This riotous rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza return’s to Manchester this week as part of a new UK tour, with uncomplicated debauchery at the top of its agenda. Right from the opening scenes it’s clear that Rock of Ages is a show which doesn’t take itself too seriously and is more than happy to poke fun at the era, the script, the cast and even the audience who absolutely lap it up.

Rock of Ages UK Tour ©The Other Richard

Rock of Ages transports us back to the 1980’s where small town girl Sherrie (Danielle Hope) and wannabe rock God Drew (Luke Walsh) have headed to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. Things of course don’t quite go according to plan and despite clearly fancying the pants off each other their love story seems more stop than start as they search for their happy ending on the Sunset Strip. Add to this a couple of German property developers who want to turn their beloved Bourbon Room into a snazzy mall and we soon find that not only do they have to try to save themselves but the Strip too.

There’s so much to enjoy about this show that the lack of narrative really doesn’t matter, the cast came here to rock our socks off and that is exactly what they do. It’s clear to see why this feisty and fun show has a huge cult following, not only are the performances top class the show is also incredibly witty with an infectious energy.

Rock of Ages UK Tour ©The Other Richard

Lucas Rush shines as the cheeky narrator Lonny, his boundless energy and naughty charisma make him an absolute joy to watch. Danielle Hope is perfectly cast as Sherrie, belting out the big ballads with apparent ease while her love interest Luke Walsh comes close to stealing the show with his knock-out performance as Drew, add to this a power-house performance from Zoe Birkett as Justine and you’ve got some of the finest voices in musical theatre right there on one stage.

Rhiannon Chesterman and Andrew Carthy as Regina and Franz respectively are an absolute scream, their outrageous duet during Hit Me with Your Best Shot has the audience howling; while audience favourite Kevin Kennedy strikes the right note as bar owner Dennis.

ROA 1

Director and Choreographer Nick Winston ensures the pace is fast and the choreography is as tight as a rock stars jeans as the incredibly talented cast belt out rock classic after rock classic including The Final Countdown, We Built This City, In Want to Know What Love Is and the infectiously uplifting Don’t Stop Believin’.

It’s cheesy and it knows it but oh so entertaining. With its tongue firmly in its cheek, stunning performances and lots of cheeky fun, Rock of Ages is big, bold, in-your-face theatre which entertains from start to finish.

Catch it at Manchester’s Opera House until Saturday 29th September tickets available here.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

TMM - Joanne Clifton as Millie and Company (c) Darren Bell - Copy

Thoroughly Modern Millie arrived in Manchester last night under the strangest and most difficult of circumstances, less than 24hrs before; a horrific act of terrorism ripped through the foyer of the nearby MEN arena and left the city in a complete state of shock and disbelief. There were multiple fatalities and many more serious injuries, even now concert goes remain unaccounted for. Despite this horrendous and cowardly attack on our city, Manchester did not shut down, Manchester did what Manchester does, we carried on, we helped each other, we looked after each other, we were and are, defiant. After careful consideration and advice from the relevant authorities, it was decided that despite the devastation and hurt caused by the terror attack, the show must and would go on.

Taking to the stage just before curtain up cast member Graham MacDuff made a beautiful and emotive speech, he then led the audience in a minute silence which in true Manchester style once the minute was over became a rapturous applause. Theatre goers whilst devastated were determined that fear wouldn’t keep them away and thankfully the cast and company of Thoroughly Modern Millie were the perfect tonic.

TMM - Graham MacDuff as Mr Trevor Graydon, Joanne Clifton as Millie and Company (c) Darren Bell - Copy

Joanne Clifton is without doubt at the top of her game right now, after lifting the 2016 Strictly Mirrorball trophy with Ore Oduba, she is a talent in high demand. Taking on a role made famous by the legendary Julie Andrews can be no mean feat; however Clifton undoubtedly makes it her own, she fizzes with charisma and literally oozes with talent as the sassy and sparkling Millie. Whilst audiences will be most familiar with her dancing skills she also delivers the iconic songs effortlessly and with great style, her acting too is on point as her perky determination to succeed has the audience rooting for her from the off.

TMM - Katherine Glover as Miss Dorothy Brown,, Graham Macduff as Mr Trevor Graydon and Joanne Clifton as Millie (c) Da

Millie arrives from Kansas determined to bag herself a husband and a glamorous new life in the big apple, things don’t quite go according to plan as she ends up broke and bunking in a dodgy flophouse run by an even dodgier Mrs Meers (Lucas Rush) who unbeknown to Millie is a white slave trader, shipping unsuspecting orphan girls across the seas to Hong Kong. The story is delightfully daft and superbly silly allowing for some truly genius comedic moments. Lucas Rush has audiences howling through his exaggerated performance as the menacing Mrs Meers, the switch from faux Chinese maiden to deep voiced convict is hilarious as he tires of the giggly girls he houses. Special mention must also go to Graham MacDuff, his performance as Trevor Graydon is a joy, the scene where Millie and Jimmy (Sam Barrett) find him roaring drunk after he thinks he’s been stood up by Dorothy (Katherine Glover) is an absolute hoot, tears of laughter streamed down my face as this riotous romp unfolded. Clifton and Barrett as Millie and Jimmy make for the perfect coupling, they bounce off each other brilliantly and their dancing is a really beautiful highlight in this great fun production.

Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a delight, funny, feel-good and flippin’ fantastic! With stunning costumes, dazzling dance routines, a beautiful score and brilliant book, quite literally has it all. We must thank and congratulate the cast and company for going ahead with the show in what must have been the most difficult of circumstances, you gave your heart and souls to Manchester last night, bringing joy and much needed laughter, a total toe-tapping treat from start to finish.

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/thoroughly-modern-millie/palace-theatre-manchester/