A Totally Fair Review Of Rock Of Ages The MusicalBy Joshua Haddow
A few weeks ago I went down to speak to the audience at the hit West End musical Rock of Ages for an article. If you don't know, Rock of Ages is everything you always hated about everything you always loved; at £80 a ticket. The play features a mish-mash of cliches about the late-80s LA rock scene and music cribbed from the likes of Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister and stars a dickhead from X Factor (Shayne Ward) and a dickhead from somewhere else on Channel 4 (Justin Lee Collins). It is the lowest form of art ever created and I said as much in the short article I wrote (even though I hadn't seen the play, I'd just met the audience). You can see what they said here.
Soon after the piece was published, a man who works for a company promoting Rock of Ages tweeted me offering complimentary tickets. "How sweet," you might be thinking, but considering our respective jobs, what David was essentially saying here was one of two things:
1.) "Can I bribe you into a positive review with a pair of free tickets, you poor struggling writer."
2.) "Rock of Ages is SO great, if this guy really saw it he would definitely love all the funny, funny jokes and killer songs. I mean, I work in PR, I'm about as cynical as they get, right? And I LOVE Rock of Ages :) "
I decided to follow him up on his offer, because I'm not massively into turning free shit down. So, here you go, David. You wanted to know what I would think of your show, here it is. This is my review of Rock of Ages The Musical:
Shayne Ward; 2005's Great British pop music hope.
It seems to me that Justin Lee Collins is constantly on the edge of a depressive breakdown. It is apparent in everything that he does. A friend of mine from the South West once told me that JLC sits alone in a cafe in Bristol, day-in and day-out, mournfully stirring one of those thin wooden sticks through the froth of a mocha latte and gazing through the window like a man who just saw his family murdered. His presence on stage suggests this is true. You can sense sympathy oozing from the cast around him.
Nevertheless, I'm sat in the best seats I've ever had for a theatre in the West End. Above me are several big black boards littered with visual "jokes". A bottle of Jack Daniel's sits aside the caption "I did WHAT with my sister?" A fried egg is underscored by the tagline "This is your brain on drugs". I can almost hear the production meeting echoing in my head: "We don't want to promote drugs, but can we appropriate casual drug use into the aesthetic in a suggestive or provocative manner?"
Here's the basic premise in case you're interested: Boy works in bar in LA, wants to be rock star. Girl moves to LA, want's to be actress. They fall in love, but it goes badly. He becomes rock star but management try to change him into Marky Mark. She becomes a stripper. Stuff happens, they reunite and have a baby. In between Shayne Ward fucks the girl, the bar gets shut down by evil German property developers and there are some only halfway-appropriate songs crowbarred in to stop people falling asleep.
Why Britney, Why?
But the story isn't the focus, the ROCK is the focus. Well, every song was butchered, without exception. The audience didn't mind, though, because they were all over 50 and think Genesis is heavy metal. But I did, because Dee Snider of Twisted Sister is a personal hero of mine and deserves more than this cack. Adding insult to injury, the finale amounted to everyone standing up and singing along to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing". I left before the first chorus.
Apart from that... there were jokes, I think. At one point a young, extremely camp German exclaims, "I'm not GAY, I'm just German!" I think that was one of them.
So, in answer to the tweet from the PR: David - people like me carefully guard their tastes and sensibilities from people like you, it's the only way we can struggle through life. No hard feelings, but Rock of Ages = Fucking shit poor.
Follow Josh on Twitter @joshuahaddow