Immediately as the lights went down and David Coverdale’s voice-intro played over the Teatro at Montecasino, we were transported to an era of sex, drugs and good ol’ 80s rock ‘n roll! Our narrator – or rather dramatic conjurer – Lonny, played by the incomparable Zak Hendrikz, has us hooked from minute one with his wit and charisma as he breaks the fourth wall. Soon after, the music takes over and the wailing guitar intro to “Just Like Paradise” echoes around the theatre… and just like that, we have escaped our reality of rising petrol prices, Brexit, and Donald Trump.
Our love story between Drew and Sherrie is as cheesy as it gets but we love every second of it. Josh Ansley with his Steve Perry-like pipes and Jessica Driver’s endearing and charming performance find a way to tug at our heartstrings from their serendipitous first meeting.
Mishap and mayhem are then set in motion as we follow these two lovers on their journey to reach their dreams, paralleled by the potential destruction of the Sunset Strip – and all of rock ‘n roll with it!
Something that is clear throughout the show is the genius of the casting. Cito (lead singer of Wonderboom) playing the iconic role of Stacee Jaxx is someone we cannot imagine anyone else playing. His bathroom scene with Driver is particularly memorable while being narrated by a Foreigner favourite. The production is also filled with many other colourful and lovable characters that we invest in as soon as we meet them. There is Bourbon Room owner, Dennis Dupree (played by none other than South African’s theatre superstar, Craig Urbani), and Regina (played by the multi-talented Natasha Van Der Merwe, who also plays several other roles), who is our protest protagonist who is quite simply “not gonna take it!” Our German antagonists, Hertz (Neels Clasen) and Franz (Matthew Counihan), are a laugh of a minute whose personal stories climax in Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” that will leave you in absolute stitches. Lebohang Toko plays both the greedy mayor and super cool producer Ja’Keith and there is also an incredibly powerful performance by Lois Du Plessis as Justice singing iconic anthems like “Anyway You Want It” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.
The ensemble includes a number of talented performers who have been principles in their own right and who complement the leads perfectly. The energy, fun, and chemistry of the company is evident. They are enjoying themselves and needless to say – so are we!
The production is incredibly well-staged and directed by Timothy Le Roux. The band, led by Wessel Odendaal, are tight and “rock” from start to finish – assisted by Fried Wilsenach with meticulous sound design. The lighting by Oliver Hauser is concert-esque which just adds to the epic nature of the show. Also a massive shoutout must be given to VR Theatrical and Montecasino for making this musical come to life.
In summary, what can you expect from Rock Of Ages? Nostalgia, sing-a-longs, and of course… NOTHIN’ BUT A GOOD TIME!
Rock Of Ages is on at the Teatro Montecasino until 20 October 2019. Tickets available at Computicket and the box office.