OK, so it’s not a gig but it’s a musical and that music is rock. Plus, it was awesome, so it deserves a shout out. It’s on a current run at the Kings, and as far as I could see the thing was sold out tonight, so I have no idea what ticket availability is like.
For those who’ve see the Rock of Ages film (which I also guiltily loved), the story is similar but slightly different. Two lovestruck teenagers fail to get off with each other while working on Sunset Strip in the late 80’s, the bar they’re working in is threatened with demolition (this time by German developers, not PMRC-loving soccer moms), and everyone communicates using song lyrics.
The pantomime is strong in this one, with the fourth wall not so much being broken as being acknowledged as not actually existing pretty early on. The narrator is happy to have a bit of banter, and all of the cast reacted well to a couple of shouts from the ground floor – all taken in the best of spirits.
Talking of the cast, they’re superb. The acting’s suitably hokey, but the singing’s oustanding. Sorry, I don’t have cast names, but the lad playing the male lead has a staggeringly good voice. The narrator also does magic tricks and a wonderful robot dance. The women look great in stockings and suspenders (hey, it was the 80’s – that’s how women dressed back then).
Obviously, the music is great. A ton of quality rock and glam tracks, and the method of merging two songs or bouncing back and forth between then as is done in the film works ever bit as well live. Credit must be given to the band who are on stage for the entire time, and especially the poor drummer who’s stuck behind a plastic screen for the whole length. At least he gets a few minutes on the projector screen at the end!
Props, costumes and sets are used to wonderful effect both for atmosphere and for laughs. This really is a laugh-out-loud comedy – I swear the guy next to me was close to laughing his lungs up at more than one point. There are blatant jokes, sly references, a bit of ad lib, slapstick, and in some instances so much going on that you need eyes all over the stage to get it all (“MORE COWBELL”). I’d almost say it would be worth a second trip just to watch a different bit of the stage at various points to catch the stuff I heard people laughing at while I was looking elsewhere.
It’s big, silly, brash, mad, over-the-top and utterly, utterly brilliant. Just like anything to do with rock music damn well should be.