I wanted to love Rock of Ages I really really did. In fact I expected to like it. It’s scored five Tony Award nominations, spent almost six years on Broadway, a couple of years in the West End and this is its second UK tour. But I didn’t like it, it fact I really really couldn’t get on with it at all.
Rock of Ages is a loud, bright, sparkling, 80s-themed musical experience. The music is really really good with well chosen songs including hits from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe, among other well-known rock bands . The actors were great with some stand out moments and the storyline is slightly better than most in this genre. It even brought the audience to its feet on more than one occasion. So what didn’t I like?
I know Rock of Ages is meant to be light hearted and I know it’s set in the eighties but I thought we had moved on from productions that celebrate smut. The practically panto style of language in the performance was off putting from the moment the narrator Lonny came on stage. I just couldn’t get past it. I really didn’t expect to listen to so many sexist comments or movements in a light hearted fun show, even one set in the 80’s.
A quote from a Manchester review from 2018 summed it up for me
Is it still ok for blokes to leer at girls’ bums when they bend over in skin-tight shorts? To stick her fingers down his crotch and rub? For him to take off her panties and give them a good sniff, or for her to stick a bottle up his backside, or for him to simulate tit groping…? This is all just nasty smut dressed up as high camp, conveyed through a nauseating prism of very loud, very noisy rock tunes.What’s on Stage
I am in the minority though. I’ve read lots of reviews today and people love it. So for balance I’m going to leave them here, and if you go to see it, I really hope you love it, and that you totally disagree with me. I hate not liking a theatre production, with all the effort that goes into them, I particularly hate disliking theatre shows in 2021 when they’ve been closed for so long.
I’ll finish this review suggesting that everyone likes different things. Rock of Ages is not one for me, but might be one for you.
Rock of Ages is touring the UK now https://www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/tour/