If you haven’t heard about it by now then you mustn’t be living in Laois.
Portlaoise Musical Society’s production of Rock of Ages was a huge hit.
Directed by the one and only AIMS award winning Paul “Nippy” Norton. With musical direction by Emer Hartnett who is new to the Portlaoise M.S and choreographed by Grace McGrath who also choreographed Portlaoise M.S succesul Strictly Come Dancing earlier this year.
The setting for the musical is the fabled Bourbon Room located on the famous Sunset Strip in California.
Set in 1987, the music venue has seen better days and is run by Dennis Dupree (Jay Ritchie) and his assistant Lonny (Alex Cathcart) who is also the shows narrator.
When ambitious Sherrie (Aideen Leacy), a hopeful small-town girl who wants to make it big as an actress, arrives off the bus, she bumps into Drew (Eoghan Fingleton), a worker at The Bourbon Room with big dreams of making it as a rock star.
When the two seem to have an easy way to finding love with each other, the mayor (Rory Chadwick) is easily persuaded by german real-estate developers Hertz (Pat Cullen) and his son Franz (Sean O’Neill) to close down the Bourbon Room as well as the rest of the Sunset Strip, much to the dismay of political activist Regina (Aisling Rohan), the stakes are raised.
Dennis and Lonny plot to have mega-famous Stacee Jaxx (Damien Keating), the newly announced solo act, to play his band “Arsenal’s” last show at the Bourbon Room in hopes that this show will raise enough funds to stop the foreclosure of their beloved rock club.
Rock god Stacee leaves destruction behind him as he sleeps with Sherrie and gets kicked out of his own band before the show ends, destroying all prospects of a romance between Sherrie and Drew and saving the club.
In the thick of all the destruction, Sherrie flees to the sanctuary of the nearby strip club and is comforted by the owner Justice (Angi McNulty) while Drew joins a boy band under the guidance of Jai-Keith (Richard Finnegan).
Who can help save the beloved Bourbon Room, the young lovers and the feud between german developers? Only Lonny “the Dramatic Conjurer” knows.
There is one very important element that MUST be addressed about this production: The set!
Designed by John Wright, the set was breathtaking and something you would expect from a West End production.
The open bar at the start of the show made me feel as though I had gone back in time to a rock concert. Another scene I felt very connected to was the car scene during the song “Waiting for a Girl Like You” which made me feel as though I was on a first date with the two leads.
The absent minded driving on your way there, where you get blown off for not having your lights on, the “should I make a move or not” thoughts that swirl around in your head and who could forget the West Coast Coolers and a blanket.
This musical is filled with wonderful performances by all mentioned as well as the fabulous, professional ensemble.
With a book by Chris D’Arienzo, it may not be written by an Andrew Lloyd Sondheim but it does really entertain and delight audiences with incredible songs such as “Just Like Paradise”, “We Built This City” and the magnificent “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Everyone involved in this production should take a bow as it had the crowd rocking every night from start to finish.
Glad to see Nippy back at the helm after a stressful year working with Portlaoise Pantomime. A man of many talents
SEE ALSO – The LaoisToday 2017 Annual is now on sale in bookshops and newsagents around the county – this is where you can buy it