The head-bangers amongst you will revel in the highly professional band playing under the suitably dressed direction of Chris Ball as classics such as ‘We built this city on rock ’n’ roll’, ‘More than words’ (beautifully sung by Natalie Baker) and the iconic ‘Don’t stop believing’ attempt to burst the ear-drums at The Point for the rest of this week.
A slight plot, involving elements of Rent (pulling down buildings/demonstration against capitalism) and Les Miserables (Sherrie’s descent into prostitution after being fired from her job) is pitted against a solid rock background of songs strung together to complete the narrative. A confident and strident Paul Rogers as the Narrator/Plot Maker magically weaves the strands as frustrated rock juvenile Sam Gregory and initially naïve Natalie Baker fall in and out of relationship status (sometimes far too quickly), surrounded by a diverse set of other characters including a hysteria-ful Stu Collins as Franz Klineman, Dave Smith as a Meatloaf-inspired Dennis Dupree, Jim Smith a six-packed Stacee Jaxx and a comical Kimberley King as Regina Koontz, manic leader of the activists trying to prevent Franz’s father, Hertz (a suitably madcap Adrian Jones), from buying up the strip for his own monetary gain and promotion.
The set is very well conceived and used by the myriad of chorus and principals to full effect, director Mark Barton-Leigh ensuring that each has their own moment in the spotlight.
This show is not for the faint-hearted, however: with a song titled ‘Beaver hunt’, a smattering of (needless) four-letter words and very raunchy choreography, the subtleties of Cole Porter this show most certainly does not have. The script gives the ladies get a very raw deal as part of the rock star genre depiction, but does allow for a redemption of sorts in the well-crafted and well-sung ‘Every rose has its thorn’, especially in the initial harmonies of Sherrie and Justice (Emma Carpenter).
First-night nerves may have slowed the pace a little, but this will pick up. However, probably also due to first-night preparations, there was quite an imbalance of sound from where I was sitting, which meant that lyrics and dialogue disappeared, so it was not easy to establish or maintain empathy, and some of the humour was sadly lost. No doubt this will be adjusted accordingly.
That aside: big voices, big hair – ‘Any way you want it’!
Future performances: 22-24 September at 7.30 (Saturday 2.30 and 7.30).