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Rock of Ages

Date

19th October 2017

Society

Harrogate St Andrews Players

Venue

Harrogate Theatre

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Louise Denison

Musical Director

Jim Lunt

Choreographer

Louise Denison

Report

Author: Terry Harrison

The title of this show is, of course, that of an old evangelistic hymn, the next line of which is “let me hide myself in thee”. I have to confess that, being no fan of the juke-box type of musical, this would never be a sentiment I would express about this show. There again, it’s such an up-front, all energy, in-your-face affair that there would be nowhere to hide anyway.

The plot is reminiscent of others: out-of-town innocent comes to big city to seek fame, lands in a sleazy nightclub, which is threatened with demolition. It’s set in the ‘80s but the addition of an ageing celebrity who enjoys the company of younger women brings a certain topicality.  The music is a collection of pop songs from that era, given good performances in this production by a cast, a large number of whom would not have been around to hear the original versions.  Occasionally, particularly in the first act, the lyrics and the dialogue were difficult to follow; the American (and sometimes German) accents, the pace at which the speech must flow for it to have credibility in its context and a less than sympathetic sound system were all contributory factors.

Overall, however, this was a superb production, every bit as good as we have come to expect from this Society and its production team. There is no doubt that between them they excel with this type of show; they expect total commitment from the cast and they get it from start to finish. Energy and enthusiasm are there in abundance and principals engage with their respective characters with apparent ease.  This show was extremely well cast with no weak links and it would be quite wrong to single out any of the performances from what was essentially a fine piece of teamwork. A five-piece rock band provided excellent accompaniment, never too loud and their position on stage within a simple but effective set enabled the action to take place without the barrier of an orchestra pit between audience and performers.

The show ends with a big number, “Don’t stop believing”, a sentiment with which the original hymn would not be unfamiliar.  Whilst I am not yet a convert to this type of show, I have to confess that this Society can be relied upon to mount first-class productions of them.