JCS considerations

Jesus Christ Superstar (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

February 10 – 25

The Crete Street Theatre stage is affronted by two distinct and appropriately placed sides in Beenleigh Theatre Group’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”. To the left are fist-in-the-air fliers of the Nazareth party encouraging citizens to fight the power, while to the right there is Roman Party political propaganda promising that we can ‘Count on Caiaphas’, who sees Jesus as a threat to the nation. Between them, things open upon infamous apostle Judas Iscariot (a committed Isaac Brown), who sings of his concern at the rising prolife and increasingly crazed followers of Jesus, predicting that they may threaten the powerful empire to the point of punishment in an impassioned ‘Heaven on Their Minds’.

Judas is singing from his room in Hotel Gethsemane, in reposition of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s contemporised depiction of the final days of the life of Jesus Christ to a more recent reimagining. This fits alongside the production’s theme of enhancing the musical’s commentary on celebrity culture from before celebrity culture was even a thing, with, for example, modernising touches of the mass communication that Israel in 4BC lacked. While apostles with mobile phones obviously in-hand and a phone-lit musical number are maybe unnecessary, King Herod’s (Cassie Baan) Hardline TV show that appears on screen in lengthy pre-show and interval loops works well in drawing modern parallels through the King’s provocation of fellow Galileans to question the buzz around the upstart Jesus of Nazareth (Sophia Dimopoulos), including the authenticity of his birth certificate, and creates a nice arc to Act Two’s catchy ‘Herod’s Song’, which sees Baan leaning into the hammy mocking of its caricature as the flamboyant King pressures Jesus live on air to prove his divinity by performing his fabled miracles.

Despite the frequent, perhaps again unnecessary, set piece movement by ‘hotel staff’, the sung-through rock opera moves quickly, helped along by Donovan Wagner and Kaela Gray’s lighting design which, on its own, creates appearance of a hotel elevator in which Judas is propositioned towards his ultimate betrayal, and takes us from a seedy hotel scene into the darkness of Jesus’ torment. And while its titular number is maybe more lacklustre than full-on focal-point, there are some memorable moments within the musical, such as creation of the tableau of Jesus’ final supper with his disciples and the colour-themed nods within Natalie Jean and Hannah Collines’ costume design.

Kylie Davis-Davenport’s choreography works well when advancing the narrative such as when Jesus’ rag tag follows are being turned away from discovery of ‘What’s the Buzz?’ and when Mary Madeline (Abigail Ellerton) anoints Jesus towards spa relaxation with instruction that ‘Everything’s Alright’ so they should treasure the comforts they have. At other times, however, it serves as more of a distraction to the main focus, when representing in interpretive dance and movement themes from an already obvious plot element or stylising a pivotal musical moment such as Jesus’ 39 lashes without any grounding explanation for those perhaps unfamiliar with the detail of New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life from arrival in Jerusalem to his crucifixion.   

Restraint is rightly shown in stunning realisation of Jesus’ emotionally-charged musical soliloquy ‘Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)”. Dimopoulos gives this crucial moment for her character everything that it requires as Jesus wrestles with doubts about the success of her mission, demands to know why she should continue given what awaits and ultimately surrenders to God’s will. Andrew Lloyd Webber himself has called this the most difficult song to sing he has ever written and Dimopoulos absolutely does this assessment justice, making it a standout moment of equal parts defiant conviction, potent desperation and ultimate dignity. While her vocals are well-pitched and she brings out the conflict and fear of her character’s plight throughout the production, this is, without doubt, the highlight of the show, thanks to the depth and soar of her vocals, and the considered lighting that backdrops her performance.

In support, Brown effectively conveys the internal conflict driving Judas’s actions, showing control in his lower vocal registers, but not the belt that Act Two’s ‘Damned for All Time’ deal with his betrayal perhaps requires, in keeping with its riff-driven rock sounds. Ellerton, gives us a compelling Mary, instilling the character with both strength and vulnerability through touching subtlety. While her ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ is another of the production’s great moments, she also creates some solid harmonies with Georgia Cooper as Peter in their ‘Could We Start Again, Please?’ wish to return to a time of hope and peace. Justin Harreman makes for a strong Governor Pontius Pilate, who holds Jesus’ fate in his hands. Also excellent are Daniel McNamara as High Priest Caiaphas and Michael Mills as his chief advisor Annas. McNamara’s bass vocals are especially deep and rich in their Act One duet of conclusion that for the greater good ‘This Jesus Must Die’

Ever since it first appeared on the musical scene in 1971, “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been considered sacrilegious to select conservative Christian groups and there are sure to be some troubled by the idea of re-gendering Jesus as this production has done. Apart from jarring the pronouns of Mary’s lovely ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ lament of how her feelings for Jesus frighten her, that Jesus is female, is not the most significant part of how this story is told. What stands out most is her crucial role in an impending election and what takes shape from that in terms of commentary on a person becoming more important than their deeds.As Director Kaela Gray notes in the show’s program, “this production isn’t a commentary on religion or theology; rather, it’s using the millennia-old story (as told through now-vintage tunes) to carry an incredibly modern message.”

While, at times, devotion to his modernity becomes unnecessarily detailed in distraction, what remains clear is the distinction of Lloyd-Webber’s catchy 1970s-inspired high-energy rock score, especially when kept in original key throughout. From the bombast of its epic shredding electric-guitar-filled opening overture onwards, the dynamic score is brought to rocking life by onstage JCS orchestra, under baton of Musical Director Benjamin Richards (also on keys). The perfectly balanced David Chivers (keys 2), Joel Sanchez-Carn (guitar), Phil Kan (bass) and Abbie Chadirchi (drums / percussion) are hidden away underneath the staging’s raised platform and it is unfortunate that there is no opportunity to ever seen them or rightfully acclaim their talents.  

Oz anew

The Wizard of Oz (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

November 18 – December 3

Thanks to its perennially popular 1939 Judy Garland film, “The Wizard of Oz” is iconic. Beenleigh Theatre Group audiences are reminded of this if not during the familiar story of Act One of the musical, then during interval, which features play of a number of Garland songs. Stepping into the acclaimed actress’ ruby slippers is certainly no easy feat, but Madeline Harper does it with aplomb, and this is not the only strength of the company’s final production for 2022.  

Like so many girls her age, Dorothy Gale dreams of what lies over the rainbow. When a tornado rips through her Kansas home, Dorothy and her dog, Toto (very cute Yorkies Peggotty Pickel Hunt and McGinty Hunt), are whisked away in their house to the magical merry ol’ land of Oz, where, on instruction from the Good Witch of the North, they follow the troublesome Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, along the way meeting a Scarecrow in need of a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who longs for courage, who are all somewhat familiar.

Before Frank Baum’s wildly imaginative fairytale morphs into a technicolour account, it starts in the bleakness of Kansas prairie farm life where Uncle Henry (Darcy Morris) and stern Auntie Em (Holly Siemsen) attempt to convince young Dorothy of the need to hand over her pet dog Toto after he bites nasty neighbour Miss Gulch (Alison Pattinson)…. until a tornado strikes in impede of Dorothy’s attempt to run away. It is an opening scene full of foreshadowing through introduction of three farm workers, Hunk (Hudson Bertram), Hickory (Michael Mills) and Zeke (Michael Ware), the later Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion’s, and the wonderful Professor Marvel (Bradley Chapman). To their credit, the company takes its time with this and allows emphasis of the parallels with character appearances to come in the future dream world in which trees come to life and there is always threat of lions and tigers and bears #ohmy.

A multilayered approach ensures that the audience is given a fresh take on a story that is still full of familiar moments and music. Attention to detail is evident in Alicia Caruana and Blake Russell’s costume design (especially in the patchwork, straw-stuffed clothing of the clumsy scarecrow), detailed even down to the sparkle of Dorothy’s iconic blue gingham dress. And fluro hyper-coloured costuming works well to capture the essential cheeriness of the muchkin people who welcome Dorothy to their land in celebration of the ding-don demise of their Wicked Witch of the East tormenter.

The fantasy that lies at heart of the story and its transitions in place can post a challenge for smaller companies, however, BTG are up for the task, creatively making use of the whole Crete Street Theatre space to create levels and allow for clever revelation of the yellow brick road to lead Dorothy and her friends to the imperial capital. From-audience appearances are peppered throughout and Holly Leeson’s choreography keeps things interesting as dancers perform as the tornado transition from Kansas to Oz, with aid from effective sound (Chris Art) and lighting design (Design Brett Roberts, Perry Sanders & Chris Art).

Despite being let down by occasional missed microphone cues, members of the core cast all do a stellar job in their respective roles. From the moment she first appears in a puff overdone cloud of smoke, Abby Page conveys all that is good about Glinda the Good Witch of the North. And Alison Pattinson is magnificent as both the intimidating self-important Miss Gultch and then the curiously smoking Wicked Witch of the West, cackling with threats and intention to avenge her sister’s death and retrieve her ruby red slippers from Dorothy. The star of the show, however, is clearly Harper as the story’s headstrong but also kind-hearted young protagonist. Her vocal pitch is amazing and she doesn’t miss a vocal beat. Her muse to little dog Toto of why only bluebirds fly over the rainbow is a strong, soaring reminder of why the work’s signature song is of the most enduring standards of the 20th century, and she shows brilliant dance skills too in Act Two’s lively ‘Jitterbug’ musical number, which was cut from the MGM movie. 

Bertram makes for a delightful first friend to Dorothy, flopping about all over the place as it really stuffed only of straw and accompanying this with appropriately amplified facial expressions, and Mills gives the Tin Man some tender moments. It is Ware’s nerveless Lion, however, that is the clear audience favourite. Hyperbolically pantomimic in his cheeky animated reactions and repeated failed attempts to be the king of the forest, he draws attention in his every scene appearance.

On-point harmonies result in some superb vocal moments, especially in resolution of dissent chords. The 20-piece orchestra, revealed at the rear of the stage once the story lands in Oz is sharp in its sound, especially when showcased in Entracte as we resume the story in the Emerald City where things aren’t actually so wonderful. Strings and woodwinds feature predominantly in the numbers that introduce each of Dorothy’s companions, ‘If I Only Had a Brain, ‘If I Only Had a Heart’ and ‘If I Only Had the Nerve’, but these also includes some lovely brass accents. And when everything combines to happy us towards interval with the quartet’s performance of ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard’, the result is simply joyous. Act Two provides more opportunities for the orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Julie Whiting to showcase its versatility with the percussive march of witch’s Winkies and avant-garde ‘Merry Old Land of Oz’ opener, which is full of jazzy brass sounds (and even feature of a tap-dance number).

This is an energetic production brimming with talent in its every aspect. It is a charming retelling of a well-known story worth seeing because, because, because of its new takes as much as familiar reminders of why the classic story of Dorothy’s journey is so universally loved. And it is understandable, therefore, as to why its remaining tickets are selling so quickly.

Photos c/o – Creative Street

Freaky family fun

Freaky Friday (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

June 17 – July 2

The musical comedy “Freaky Friday” is based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films of the same name. Though a contemporary update, the mother-daughter body-switching story follows much the same storyline with its rousing opening number ‘Just One Day’ introducing the characters and setting up the narrative.

11th grader Ellie Blake (Carly Wilson) wants nothing more than to participate in The Hunt, an annual all-night scavenger hunt that she’s determined to win because her crush Adam (Elliot Gough) is the new List Master. Her only problem is that it is set to take place on the night of her busy widowed mother Katherine’s (Della Days) wedding rehearsal dinner. As the equally frustrated and angry mother and daughter fight and plead for each other to change, tension crescendos to their shared grip of a giant hourglass and suddenly, neither of them is the same as they once were. And so begins the very freaky Friday that sees them journeying in each other’s bodies (and discovering more about each other’s lives), full of hilarity as the duo scramble to assimilate to the new experiences that ensue.

The supporting cast is excellent. Kirsten Sparks is of particular note as one of Ellie’s best friends, goggle-eyed and jelly-kneed in her own adoration in presence of the adorably cool Adam, while AJ Betts brings a commanding stage presence to villainous mean-girl Savannah. This is, however, Wilson and more so, Days’ show and it is their performances that define it. Days inhabits the role of a mother inhabited by a flanneletted and angsty teenager usually bickering with her younger puppet-obsessed brother Fletcher (Samuel Barrett). Through changing vocal tones and physicality, she captures the hyperbole and chaos of her teenage daughter’s daily dilemmas, but also, as things progress, reveals her growing maturity in appreciation of her mother’s stresses. Indeed, Days demonstrates excellent comic timing in her play of a sassy teenager trapped inside an adult body, especially in Katherine’s resulting attempts to quash shows of affection from her fiancé Mike (Mike Zarate). Days’ vocal prowess is touching and powerful as required, combining wonderfully with Wilson’s equally commanding signing voice for a bluesy ‘Bring My Baby (Brother) Home’, Act Two’s show-stopper.  

Like a Disney style “Heathers”, “Freaky Friday” is full of catchy songs (music by Tom Kitt and song lyrics by Brian Yorkey), brought to versatile life by an accomplished orchestra whose back of stage reveal in encore is to much audience acclaim. Steven Days’ musical direction celebrates the varied sensibilities of the score, such as Act One’s ‘I’ve Got This’, where the two decide that they have to pretend to be one another until a second magical hourglass can be found, both thinking that the other’s life is easier, which has a swaying calyso feel. This makes moments when the music overwhelms ensemble vocals, such as in ‘Oh Biology,’ all the more frustrating.

Clay English’s choreography is lively, elevating ensemble scenes such as school numbers and the second act scavenger hunt. Scenes similarly switch briskly between domestic and high school locations, aided by Sherryl-Lee Secomb set design of simple outlined stage pieces (like in a comic book), which sees kitchen cabinets easily rotate into high school lockers, allowing for both swift transitions and for the strong performances of its two leads to appropriately take centre stage. Attention to detail in costuming is also commendable in its role in conveying the changed personas of mother and daughter, as, for example, the mother in daughter Ellie’s body no longer carries her backpack over one shoulder and the teenager now in her mother’s body doesn’t take long to tie a jacket around her waist.

“Freaky Friday” is a fabulous musical, full of fun for all. Under Secomb’s dynamic direction, the family-friendly show offers Beenleigh audiences a triple treat of talented cast, infectious songs and lively musical numbers. There is some lovely messaging too, not just as the duo discover their unique strengths and learn to love and appreciate each other anew, but through ‘teenager’ Ellie’s urge to her teenage friends not to be ashamed of their bodies, which makes it even more worthy of a visit.

Photos c/o – Vargo Studios

Fight and almost-flight

Peter Pan (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

April 2 – 9

I would say that Beenleigh Theatre Group’s take on JM Barrie’s “Peter Pan” is a strange little show… except it’s not exactly little. With a dog for a nurse, malicious tinker bell puppet, performers facilitating bedroom drawers and the exaggerations of the story’s far-from-perfect father (David Murdoch), there is a lot happening in Act One as the audience is introduced to the show’s protagonist Wendi Darling (Ethan Hill in reappropriation of the traditionally female role), a boy on the edge of adulthood, dreaming of a place to belong.

By Act Two, at the magical boy who can fly’s invitation, the three Darling children, Wendi, Joan (Alyssa Burnett) and Michael (Bailey Ryan) fly skateboard second to the right and straight on ‘til morning to the Never Land island of adventure and fun, realised in a simple graffitied setscape. While there are still some dark moments within the ensuing tale of wonder, Daniel Dosek’s nefarious Hook is more folliful than a fearsome, devilish commander of the Jolly Roger ship and its motley crew of pirates.

All children want to grow up except the captain of the Lost Children, youngsters who fell out of their baby carriages when their nurses were looking the other way, and Dérito da Costa injects dynamism from his first appearance as the animated free-spirited and mischievous Peter Pan. With head tiled upwards and statuesque stance, he captures the classic character’s iconic physicality and brings much joy to early scenes that see the unendingly youthful title character jubilantly jumping about in celebration of having had his shadow sewn back on by Wendie one night in the nursery of the Darling household. And with a child-like lack of emotional complexity, he moves quickly from boastfulness to selfishness and anger at the idea of ever growing up, emphasising the story’s themes of imagination and escapism. Nick Hargreaves, too, brings some wonderful moments of humour to the story in his role as Slightly, Peter’s lieutenant amongst the lost children, with his well-timed, dryly-humorous one-liners bringing many of the show’s laughs.

While the production’s few musical numbers don’t really contribute a lot and, along with Act Three’s mermaid dancers, drag down the story’s momentum, Dudley Powell’s fight choreography enlivens scenes such as Peter’s epic battle with best friend / passionate rival Tiger Lilly (Jai Godbold), which is realised like a hyper-real video game brought to life. Megan Brunett’s sound design also works well to imagine us into the story’s distinct settings, with characters gathered around cracking campfire sounds and Pan’s sworn-enemy Captain Hook commanding a creaking pirate ship across stormy seas.

“Peter Pan” is a show not often performed on stage and it easy to see why. It is a challenging choice for a community based theatre company to bring to life. In this production, which has been adapted and produced by members of the company, Beenleigh Theatre Group makes some clever choices in its attempt to realise this ambition, such as imaginative incantation of the ticking crocodile that took Hook’s hand, in keeping with the celebration of imagination that sits at its core, however, with so many novelties, not everything works. While the production does present as an escapade of sorts, it is just not as big as the awfully big magical adventure story deserves.  

Once upon a twisted tale

Into The Woods (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

February 18 – 26

The late Stephen Sondheim’s works are everywhere at the moment, including a gender-swapped revival of his ground-breaking musical comedy “Company” currently enjoying rave reviews on Broadway. In Beenleigh, however, audiences are heading “Into The Woods” to enjoy one of the greatest musical theatre composer and lyricist’s most enduring and popular works. And from the outset of Beenleigh Theatre Group’s production of the Tony Award winning musical, it is clear that the woods is the place to be. Its epic opening number not only earworms its theme tune into audience hearts, but showcases some of Sondheim’s wittiness lyrics, especially as an immediately-commanding witch (Danika Saal) begins rapping about the virtues of vegetables.

The classic, fairy tale adventure mashup that is “Into The Woods” incorporates plots and characters of several Brothers Grimm stories into an original plot in which a Baker (William Boyd) and his wife (Genevieve Tree) are sent off on a magical quest by the mysterious neighbouring witch to collect various items in order to break a curse that has left them childless. The first act follows their journey as they embark upon the very specific search for a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold, which brings them across Little Red Riding Hood, (Emma Burridge), Jack of the beanstalk fame (Aidan Cobb) and others.

From the moment the story opens once upon a time to its ‘Prologue: Into the Woods’, in which all the protagonists chorus together to explain their motivations for a trip into the forest, music is at the forefront of the show’s success. Indeed, this first taste of the complex score of beautiful, expressive melodies and bold brassing alike, affirms that under the musical direction of conductor Julie Whiting, the band (hidden away at the back of the stage as if in woods themselves), is more than up for the challenge.

At the emotional centre of the action is the hopeless yet hopeful Baker and his Wife. Boyd and Tree have an easy chemistry that endears them to the audience and their ‘It Takes Two’ duet is elevated by some lovely harmonies. Meanwhile, Saal is glorious as the antagonistic evil witch who prompts their scavenger hunt-like journey into the woods so they can reverse a curse to have a child. While ‘Children Will Listen’ is gorgeous, her earlier anthemic Act Two song, ‘Last Midnight’ is passionate and exciting in its dynamism.

Chloe Smith is also in fine voice as Cinderella, who seems to only encounter kindness when it comes from her feathered friends. She has a beautiful vocal tone making her ‘No One is Alone’ one of the evening’s highlights. Christopher Morphett-Wheatley and Darcy Rhodes dynamically prance about in play off each other’s bravado energy as the two (and two-dimensional) princes (Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince), especially in the pantomime-esque ‘Agony’. Their frolic around while attempting to one-up each other in argument over who has it worse receives an enthusiastic audience response. And in his double as the Wolf, Morphett-Wheatley is beguiling in his stalk of Little Red Riding Hood (Emma Burridge) in ‘Hello, Little Girl’.

Burridge makes for a formidable Little Red Riding Hood, livening things with her every appearance, not only through her animated perkiness but impressive vocals. Her voice is consistently crisp and strong, even when with a mouth full of bread (as if Sondheim’s lyrics are already a mouthful!). And, along with Darcy White ‘as’ his emotive cow Milky-White, Aidan Cobb, as young Jack, gives us some unexpected ‘aww’ moments.

Like the realisation of Milky-White, staging effectively accounts for horse and carriage type props and big story aspects, even giving some standout moments such as our glimpse into what is going on inside Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s house. While missed microphone cues and static sometimes distract from audience engagement, Perry Sanders and Chris Art’s sound design works with Tom Dodds’ lighting design to effectively mark Act Two’s entrance of an angry giant to threaten the kingdom and challenge characters’ until-then fulfilment.

“Into The Woods” is a big musical of many characters and it takes times to tell their stories and then share the moral to be derived from them. The result is a long running time; Act One is almost self-contained, but then there is more as Act Two flips the story as the central characters are forced to band together in attempt to defeat the Giant. To the company’s credit, this production does well to make the twisted tale’s story somewhat easy to follow, especially as it transforms from a comic misadventure to an exploration of the consequences of actions. Even though it may come with a moral, however, this is no feel-good fairy tale for children, with its darkly humourous consideration of popular cultural myths.

Hold on to that rock feelin’

Rock of Ages (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

November 26 – December 11

“Rock of Ages” is a jukebox musical built around classic rock songs of the 1980s (in particular those of the decade’s glam metal bands), curated together to fit its narrative about young people coming to LA to achieve their dreams. It’s an era and thus a show of big bands with big hair, playing big guitar solos. And so Beenleigh Theatre Group plays the story out to the classic rock anthems of Twisted Sister, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Whitesnake, Foreigner and alike.

It is 1987 in the city build on rock and roll. Along Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Strip, a fictional seedy bar, celebrates rock ‘n’ roll debauchery as the lifestyle of dreamers. Busboy and aspiring rock star from South Detroit, Drew (Dylan Hodge) just wants to rock, but every musical needs a love story so enter innocent, straight off the bus from small-town Kansas Sherrie (Jaime O’Donoghue). Of course Drew has been waiting for a girl like her, but before a budding romance can begin, immediately smitten, she engages in a bathroom tryst with rock god Stacee Jaxx (Clay English).

When Act Two opens, it is the final countdown for the bar and its washed-up rocker owner Dennis (Nathan Skaines), with two villainous German developers, Herz (Jim Price) and his son Franz (Sam Piaggio), scheming to tear down the bar, meaning that it’s up to spirited city planner Regina (Madi Jennings) to stop them. Jennings makes for a fierce Regina, tough and passionate in her bohemian activism, however, it is Will Boyd as charismatic narrator and assistant manager of the Bourbon Room, Lonny who steals the show, clearly having a great time with the demanding role that rarely sees him off stage. His delivery of the script’s many raunchy jokes and sight gags is well timed for maximum comic effect as he recounts the history of the club and narrates events on stage with meta-theatrical fourth wall breaks. And English smoulders as lead singer of the band Arsenal, the egomaniac Stacee Jazz, slinking through his solo, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ with vocals as large as his character’s overblown ego.

Hodge and O’Donoghue share nice vocal chemistry as aspiring rock singer Drew and aspiring actress Sherrie; the epilogue of Journey’s iconic ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is particularly harmonious in their hands. Individually, they each have some powerful vocal moments too, such as in Sherrie’s ‘Harden My Heart’ and Drew’s ‘Oh Sherrie’, which highlights Hodge’s vocal power and impressive ability to hold a note.

Despite the show’s upbeat performances, some shorter sections lag a little and occasional microphone lapses sometimes take the audience out of its moments. Holly Leeson’s energetic choreography takes the audience back to the excesses of glam metal music videos and far-from-subtle costumes effectively capture the era’s idiosyncrasies. “Rock of Ages” is, however, all about the music and the on-stage band (musical director Julie Whiting) brings the range of its soundtrack of well-known songs to life, from a synthy-sounding ‘Final Countdown’ to an initially stripped-back and ultimately revealing ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’. In each and every song of its 20+ long setlist, the band brings it, pumping out tunes with attitude, even if initially it is at a volume that sits atop rather than in support of the singing voices in the opening number.

Comedy comes from rock ‘n’ roll antics, fourth wall breaks, overt innuendo and deliberately over-the-top, campy characterisation, all of which are appreciated by a buoyant Saturday night crowd. While in its take back to a sexier, sexualised time, the story relies of stereotypes, there is a clear sense of not taking itself too seriously. Indeed, there is an infectious, spirited energy from all members of the large on-stage cast that ensure that audience members walk away holding on to the feeling of its satisfaction.