As prologued by the rock obsessed Lonnie (Simon Pugh) WBOS are ‘taking it back to a sexier time’ where the company take the audience through the music of the 80s to narrate a tale of one girl, one boy and one bar. As the young Sherrie (Olivia Jones) ups and leaves home in search for a better life - living the rock dream on the Sunset Strip. Conflict arises on the entrance of Drew (David Walters) who becomes a catalyst for the events that unfold. Their love heightens in numbers such as High Enough and contrast the more brash numbers in the show with ease. West Bromwich Operatic Society have once again delivered an energetic performance of a much loved classic, with some real show stealing performances.
Jones leads the musical as the aspirational Sherrie complimented well by Walter’s rock-geek Drew. Jones’ voice heightens musical numbers such as I Wanna Know What Love Is where her vocal ability shines. Her on stage romance – Stacee Jaxx (Lyndon Flavell) fulfills his comic role with ease and ability. His natural comic talent is clear and is a hit with the audience, as he portrays this self-orientated superstar. Comedy continues right across this rather crude musical in the faces of Dennis Dupree (Gregg Yates) and his bartender Lonnie (Simon Pugh) which climaxes in the latter of the show with a farcical rendition of Can’t Fight This Feeling.
Further noticeable performances include Sarah Moors as the lustful Justice Charlier, and her vocal strength is key to her role in supporting Sherrie through the narration, particularly in the latter of act two during Every Rose Has Its Thorn – a definite strong point in the production from the whole cast.
Its staging is also clever with clear intention from Ben Cole’s Direction, placing isolation at the heart of the piece, exploring the character’s individual struggles. Cole’s direction continues like this throughout and along with Claire Flavell’s Choreography, the performances are striking in larger numbers. It would be nice to see a bit more done with the staging of The Final Countdown, simply because it's such an iconic hit..
However, the staging of Any Way You Want It/I Wanna Rock is ingenious and shifts between the rock-like state of Colin Wood’s lighting design, helping to define the shifts in composition for the musical number – this lighting creates some striking images, particularly in the overture. Juxtaposingly, George Stuart provides an utterly captivating performance as Franz Klinemann and delivers a hilariously intuitive rendition of Hit Me with your Best Shot - it's a near show stealing moment.
This is a production with heaps of strength and worth seeing just for the impressive performances, and set-integrated band led by Adam Joy as Musical Director.
WBOS are Not Gonna Take It Anymore so Come on Feel the Noise and get some tickets for Rock Of Ages at the Wolverhampton Grand this week!
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