WHAT: Rock of Ages

WHERE: Casa Blanca Theatre

WHEN: Until October 27



Anyone who goes to

Rock of Ages

expecting something out of the pages of Hymns Ancient and Modern is in for a rude awakening.

This is pure 80s rock 'n roll, the time hard rock found its feet and its followers rolled with the punches it delivered.

Delivered is what the Rotorua Musical Theatre has done with its latest production, casting a clever amalgam of seasoned performers and the fresh young talent that's recently swelled its ranks.

Under Steve Holmes' direction, the cast rocks their socks off. A seasoned RMT lead performer, Holmes has instilled his own professionalism from behind the footlights.

The plot's not exactly Pulitzer Prize-winning material, the action centring around those playing at, and working in, the Bourbon Room, a Sunset Strip nightspot where booze and drugs flow, the women are, shall we say, hot, the music hotter.


But all's not well. The Bourbon and adjoining Venus R21 'gentleman's club' are under threat from German developers Hertz (Barry Bird) and sappy son Franz (Mark Reid). Making a welcome return to RMT ranks after a lengthy absence, Bird plays the mayor-bribing developer; sober he's good, as a drunk he's brilliant. Reid's his ideal sidekick.

RMT first timer Ethan Wellington cast as the lovelorn wannabe rock star Drew is a find who must be preserved. As the theatre welcomes him, it waves farewell to his opposite number Brogan Hastie who's off overseas. She'll be missed but is leaving a lasting swansong portraying Sherrie, the girl fresh off the Kansas bus.

Theirs isn't the only love interest, ageing hard men rockers Lonny and Dennis, played respectively by the ever-adaptable Alasdair Hay and Rodney Conrad, find they're physically attracted.

Frank Baker, who debuted with such success in Dreamgirls, the troupe's last show, is cast as Stacee Jaxx, the babe magnet who seduces Sherrie in an indelicately graffitied toilet.

This is entertainment of the adult variety, there's a good smattering of suggestive lines coupled with raunchy on-stage action from the ensemble expertly choreographed by Molly Chattell.

All hail to the live band that cements this rock hard production. Many of the 80s favourites are there – We Built This City On Rock 'n Roll, I Want to Know What Love Is, Hit Me With Your Best Shot included.

RMT hits hard with this shot at classic rock delivered by a cast Holmes credits with playing their A game. He's not wrong.

_ Jill Nicholas