Rock of Ages review - Strictly champion Kevin Clifton shines as Stacee Jaxx

Kevin Clifton as 'Stacee Jaxx' in UK Tour of Rock of Ages - credit Richard Davenport
Kevin Clifton as 'Stacee Jaxx' in UK Tour of Rock of Ages - credit Richard Davenport

At the start of Rock of Ages, the big screen at the back of the stage asks the question - 'are you ready to rock?'

And boy, you had better be ready. The smash hit musical had the Hawth audience (and especially Ann) rocking for two and a half hours.

Luke Walsh as 'Drew', Lucas Rush as 'Lonny' and Kevin Kennedy as 'Dennis' in Rock of Ages - credit Richard Davenport

Luke Walsh as 'Drew', Lucas Rush as 'Lonny' and Kevin Kennedy as 'Dennis' in Rock of Ages - credit Richard Davenport

The show boasts Strictly Come Dancing 2018 winner Kevin Clifton will play the role of Stacee Jaxx.

We all know Kevin can dance. We all know Kevin has personality. But did we know he could sing? I didn't, but I was delighted he could belt out and tune more than match his fellow rockers.

He plays alongside Kevin Kennedy - remember him as Curly Watts? - as Bourbon Club owner Dennis, Zoe Birkett as Venus club owner Justice, Jodie Steele as Cherri, Luke Walsh as Drew, Lucas Rush as Lonny, Alexander Day as Franz, Vas Constanti as Hertz and Rhiannon Chesterman as Regina in the 80s rock musical.

The show is an LA love story based around wannabes Cherri and Drew and is packed with over 25 classic rock anthems. And each song fits the story perfectly - I can't name all of them but the standout set pieces were We Built This City/Too Much Time, More Than Words/To Be With You/Heaven (which had a wonderful Gospel choir dance routine) and Every Rose Has It's Thorn.

Clifton's highlights are Dead or Alive and I Want To Know What Love Is with Cherri.

Steele and Walsh do a great job as the young lovers, Chesterman and Day enjoy a great moment in aerobic spandex but arguably the cutest couple in Rock of Ages are Lonny and Dennis, which culminates in the hilarious and touching I Can't Fight This Feeling scene.

And as good as Clifton, Birkett, Steele, Walsh, Day, Kennedy Constanti and Chesterman are - and in my experience rare where every performance is note perfect - it's Rush as the Nar-ra-tor Lonny who steals the show.

He may not be Andrew Lloyd Sondheim, but he holds the show together with tremendous comic timing, audience participation (that's where Ann comes in), knowing meta moments and a great singing voice. Imagine the narrator of Blood Brothers with strutting presence of Freddie Mercury and the voice of Axl Rose. That's Lonny.

Epic songs, pitch perfect vocal performances, hilarious script (with great nods to how bad the film version was - and it really was bad), great choreography and Kevin Clifton riding a llama. What more could you want. A hugely enjoyable romp of a show.

If you are not on your feet at the end, you have stopped believin'.

SEE ALSO Strictly Come Dancing champion Kevin Clifton on his next challenge - musical Rock of Ages | Strictly's Kevin Clifton on going on tour with Rock of Ages
Warning: contains serious rock n roll debauchery.

Age Suitability 14+

Tickets: Tue-Thu: £38.50, Fri 5pm: £37.50, Sat 2.30pm: £36.50, Fri & Sat eve: £43.50.

Discounts (Tue-Thu & Sat 2.30pm): £3 off, Groups 10 or more: £5 off.

Make your visit extra special by upgrading to the Hawth's VIP Dining Package at some evening shows.

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