Tag Archives: Nick Winston

REVIEW: Rock of Ages – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

An unrecognisable Strictly Come Dancing champ, Kevin Clifton, dons a dodgy ‘80s wig and some even dodgier threads as fading rock star Stacee Jaxx, in Rock of Ages, Chris D’Arienzo’s fantastic, feel-good, fun musical.

1987, Los Angeles. Aspiring rock star Drew Boley (Luke Walsh) is working in the Sunset Strip bar The Bourbon Room. There he falls for small town girl Sheree (Jodie Steele) fresh off the bus from Kansas. While the two lovebirds’ romance looks to be on the up, the same can’t be said for the bar where they both work. Property developers have their eyes on this prime piece of real estate, and while the fight goes on for its survival, Drew and Sherrie’s relationship might just be headed for disaster too, thanks to larger than life rock god Stacee Jaxx (Kevin Clifton).

This isn’t Sondheim or Lloyd Webber or Andrew Lloyd Sondheim as they say in the show, but who thought it would be? Rock of Ages has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, knowingly breaking the fourth wall to get the audience firmly on its side from the start. It’s a larger than life, cheesier than Camembert romp through the greatest ‘hair metal’ hits of the 1980s, a piece of escapist fun to chase the winter, spring, summer and autumn blues away. It’s simply an exemplary piece of pure, joyous entertainment.

Whilst Clifton is undoubtedly the box office draw, and a revelation vocally, this truly is an ensemble piece with an absolute dream of a cast. A cast, in its entirety, talented from their heads to their toes. A cast who put their hearts and souls into making this the most irresistible party in town. The always fantastic Lucas Rush deserves his place centre stage as narrator, Lonny – he is an utter joy, a fine comic actor, and an even finer singer. Luke Walsh as good guy Drew has the most fantastic voice and a fine future ahead of him. Jodie Steele is an excellent Sheree and Zoe Birkett gets to show off her magnificent vocals. TV and musical theatre veteran Kevin Kennedy is a loveable Dennis Dupree and Adam Strong and Andrew Carthy provide high camp comedy as German father and son property developers Hertz and Franz Klinemann.

Rock of Ages cracks along at a blistering pace from curtain up to curtain down, delivers laughs by the bucket load and some of the finest vocals and musicianship you are likely to see on any stage. Guaranteed to lift the spirits – what more could anyone want.

Runs until 26 January 2018 | Image: Contributed

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED BY THE REVIEWS HUB.

REVIEW: The Wedding Singer – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy of the same name, The Wedding Singer cashes in our nostalgia for the decade that taste forgot: big hair, big shoulder pads, and even bigger mobile phones.

Jilted at the altar, hapless romantic Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns), is resigned to living in his grandma’s basement and consigned to making a living singing at other people’s weddings. When he meets waitress Julia (Cassie Compton), she sets his broken heart a-flutter. Unfortunately, Julia is already engaged to oily, Wall Street banker Glen (Ray Quinn). As it always is in musical comedies, there’s many a misstep until the duo are ultimately united.

If you are a regular theatre-goer, you would be justified in being cynical about the seemingly never-ending trend of film to stage adaptations. With an audience almost guaranteed and less work required to convert an already written script, (here, it’s down to original screenwriter Tim Herlihy to adapt his own work) they are appearing from the woodwork at an alarming rate.

The flimsy plot is formulaic, and instead of being ‘hilarious’ as billed, it’s amusing. There’s also a high cringe factor with heavy-handed 80s references and cheesy jokes shoe-horned in. That’s those that you can hear over the over-amped band. And, yes, it’s supposed to be fluffy entertainment, but the two-dimensional characterisations of the women are woefully stereotypical: good girls longing to get married, slutty side-kicks and mad old grannies.

Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin’s score is largely forgettable. A few real-life 80s hits (as there were in the movie) may have elevated it above mere pastiche. That said, there’s a stand-out tune in Ray Quinn’s rendition of the ode to the dollar, All About The Green.

Nick Winston has laced the choreography with nods to MTV’s greatest video hits. There’s some impressive footwork in the all-male Single, and Ray Quinn shines in the few chances he gets.

Disappointingly Francis O’Connor’s costumes are less 80s excess than they could be, it all looks a bit polished, and ‘modern’ and the set design is functional rather than visually stimulating.

While the plot is thin and the music lightweight, there are a few stand-outs in the cast: Jon Robyns has been a West End leading man in waiting for years, here, he finally gets the chance to shine in a leading role. The talented Ray Quinn is underused and the biggest cheers of the night go to stage and screen veteran Ruth Madoc, who kicks up a storm as Robbie’s potty-mouthed, rapping granny.

There’s so much unmined potential here, an already well-loved film has been reduced to a mere ghost of itself and this over-long adaptation with its often unnecessary, repetitive and uninspiring songs, render this a shadow of what it could have been.

Runs until 22 April 2017 | Image: Contributed

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED BY THE REVIEWS HUB