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Review: Rock of Ages at The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough

Fancy a feel-good night out full of glitz, top tier karaoke hits and plenty of risqué puns? Rock this way, and don't forget your air guitar.

Rock of Ages the Castle Theatre Wellingborough Northants
Photo by The Other Richard

With miles of skin tight, shredded denim, neon spandex, jet black eyeliner and a soundtrack that you’ll be singing in the shower for weeks, the smash Broadway hit (and 2012 film starring Tom Cruise and Russell Brand, check it out if you need a very easy watch) Rock of Ages is set to land on stage at Wellingborough’s Castle Theatre this month and Muddy’s been for a sneaky preview.

Rock of Ages the Castle Theatre Wellingborough Northants
Sam Turrell as Drew and Joe Gash and Lonny, Photo by The Other Richard

Paving the way for a string of rock anthems we all know the words to, even if we didn’t know it (We Built This City, I Want To Know What Love Is, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight This Feeling…), Rock of Ages takes us on a journey of love, protest and sticking it to The Man with a mountain of cheese dolloped on top. But it’s the larger than life characters, rather than the narrative arc, that make Rock of Ages the air-guitar playing, tasseled headbanger of a success it so deservedly is, with an ensemble cast of drop-outs struggling with their turbulent and somewhat adolescent inner landscapes, tangled loves stories a-plenty and a healthy dose of sex, drugs and booze.

Narrator Lonny, played by Joe Gash, is a delightfully fey mash-up of Jack Sparrow and Spike from The Quireboys (look it up). Flirty, often half-naked and totally uninhibited, he’s the source of a deluge of x-rated puns. As soon as he walks on stage he has the audience in the palm of his hand as we all shout out “boobs” as loud as we can at his behest.

Rock of Ages the Castle Theatre Wellingborough Northants
Matt Terry as Stacee Jaxx and Gabriella Williams as Sherrie, Photo by The Other Richard

The main love story centres around hapless sweethearts Drew (Sam Turrell) and Sherrie (Gabriella Williams), but for me it was the characters who moved in and out of their orbits who really made the show. The slightly dorky, bespectacled hippy Regina (Vicki Manser), who emerges from her stint as an anti-development protester as a beautiful Olivia Newton John-esque butterfly in a rainbow leotard to own the stage alongside her unlikely lover, German property developer Franz Kluneman (Andrew Carthy). Sexy ageing rock-god Stacee Jaxx, a kind of too cool to even talk to you Slash from Guns N’ Roses in a white stetson, played by X Factor champion Matt Terry, who’s main role appears to be to have a good time with every passing female in the loos of the Sunset Strip’s Bourbon Club, leaving a trail of havoc in his wake. And special props have to go to the owner of the Venus strip club, Justice, played by the magnificent Jenny Fitzpatrick, who’s pipes could rival Tina Turner’s (turns out she did actually play Tina in the West End Musical).

Andrew Carthy as Franz Kluneman, Photo by The Other Richard

Intellectual it most definitely ain’t, but if you’re looking for a camp storyline in which dreams really do come true, with costumes that would befit any Pride parade whilst you get carte blanche to belt out top tier cheesy bangers at the top of your lungs (and who doesn’t?) then grab your ticket and head down the the Castle Theatre, pronto!

Rock of Ages is at The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough from 7-11 June.

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