Only last week the New Wimbledon Theatre was packed with fans of the musical Fame, and this week I could almost write the same review. Last night Rock of Ages opened to another full house, with the same director/choreographer, and the same winning combination of brilliant singing and dancing, an excellent band, and an enthusiastic audience who were on their feet by the end of the show. Not surprising, as the songs were a string of hits from the 1970s and 1980s, and you didn’t have to be as old as this reviewer to enjoy them!
Do people still have maiden aunts? If so, don’t take them to this show, because it is very naughty. It is set in Los Angeles’ louche Sunset Strip at the height of the excesses of Glam Rock, and features a music venue based on the famous Whisky-a-Go-Go (with ‘exotic’ go-go dancers) and a ‘gentlemen’s club’ (where scantily clad young ladies also pander to gentlemen’s pleasure). The ensemble dancing is terrific, and the four female dancers are ‘fit’ in every sense of the word. A tabloid newspaper once invited male readers to vote for the female celebrity whom they considered to posses the most attractive derrière. The competition was won by Kylie Minogue, but if a similar competition had been held last night, it would have been very hard to choose among the bootylicious gyrations of the gluteus maximus on display.
But all tastes are catered for. There is an outrageously camp narrator/commentator who moves the action along and provides many an innuendo along the way. There is an hilarious turn from a young fellow who evinces all the mannerisms of a stereotypical gay man – but there is a twist at the end. And for admirers of the more mature woman, there is an excellent performance from Zoe Birkett as the madame of the gentlemen’s club, still looking great after winning Pop Idol in 2002. Of course, at the heart of the show is a boy-girl love story with the usual ups and downs – but rescued by the glorious singing of the two leads!
With much to laugh at, much to gawp at, and much to enjoy, this is a show to warm the cockles of all but the most sternly puritanical heart. Wimbledon has done it again.