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Rock of Ages – the musical

Usually you’ll catch Stalker reporting from a live heavy gig, in-between headbanging at some festival or a rock band’s club concert, not a musical show. But this one we simply could not miss, and neither should you. It just rocks so hard, we heard it all the way over here in Scandinavia. Rock of Ages simply is a must-see for every rocker at heart and it makes theater cool again. In 2024, it is a modern alternative to stealing your older sister’s rock mix-tape in the late 80s to secretly indulge in wild hair-metal, tight leather pants and hairspray.

This is a musical inspired by the 2012 movie, featuring Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin, bringing together top rock hits of the 80s. Known in the genre as a ‘jukebox musical’ where the story line is built from the previously unrelated songs, it’s kind of Mamma Mia for the edgy type, featuring Rock classics like Final Countdown, I Want To Know What Love Is, More Than Words, We’re Not Gonna Take It and many others, spiced with beer-stained bar humour, flare of sexy cowboys and funky choreo moves.

With Rock of Ages, the excuse ‘I don’t even like musicals!’ no longer flies. This is the one your rebellious (inner) teen can go see with your mom and dad – they’ll have fun being nostalgic for their 80s past and you’ll be impressed how cool your folks really are and you’d wish you measure up!

The musical features world-famous 80s rock hits as a medley, as if they were telling a sweet love-story between Drew and Sherrie, set in the mid 80s upon Hollywood hills. On their search for true love, young talents encounter happy accidents, naïve mishaps, troublesome confusion and sad moments of weakness and loss, only at the end to realize where true happiness really is. And every good love story needs a villain, here a bad boy in a skin-tight leather suit, a giant homage to the famous heartthrob-frontmen of the 80s glam-metal scene.

Thanks to the detail-oriented costume design by Mara Lena Schönborn, the iconic looks are re-vamped to the last stud on his tight fitted belt, and suddenly the 2024 girls may be looking for the tour bus, to catch up with Stacee Jaxx and the untamed Joey Primo (played by Valerio Croce) – our new favorite front-man. His stage presence (“Beaver Hunt”) is as brief as it is explosive and fiery, and we can’t get enough! (Hey Primo, wanna hunt me backstage later? *wink-wink)

This musical sparkles with energy and life, I could not sit still from the second it started. And not me alone – I could feel the floor vibrating under my feet, everyone around me was either clapping or singing or tapping their feet to the beat of the songs, no matter the age or gender, and everyone knew the lyrics. In this version, all dialogues are adapted to the German-speaking audience; however, all tunes are kept in their original glory. (Btw: Why isn’t there yet a full length CD at the merch stand with the current cast?! It’s beyond breath-taking!)

There is passion, there is kindness, there is room for hope, and always some happy ending, one way or another. And for that, we cannot help but love musicals. In this world today, we need more love and encouragement to fight for all our dreams, be it starting a band or fighting for a bigger cause by simply being able to kiss the one you love, right now. Rock of Ages gives all of it to you, hard and on point, sucking you up into the wild 80s. With such limited stage space and many props, they managed to recreate different parts of the Hollywood scenery. And it doesn’t stop there – you’re fully emerged in the atmosphere of an actual concert: as a true rock gig, it is all played live! The singing is all done live, and with such intense and fast choreography, I must really compliment and highlight my respect for the cast for keeping it up. It is very dirty and sweaty, and still… look at all these legs in leather, hot pants, stripper corsets, long hair, more leather and cowboy boots… Who knew that theater could be so damn sexy?!!

We’d like to especially highlight the vocals of Lisa Becker, Felix Freund, Timothy Roller, Linda Holmgren, Julia Taschler, Julien Schier and Martijn Noort. How come we haven’t heard this names on bigger solo gigs outside of theater box yet?! Lisa has such dramatic rock vocals, she can easily lead an all girls band to a Grammy and it’s really such a shame she doesn’t have a bigger singing part in this role. Felix and Timothy, the main leads, impress with their strong and versatile vocals, their charisma and humour – and they manage to hold high notes while RUNNING?!?!!

Julia Taschler is a true gem, such crystal clear and dynamic vocals that can shutter glass, and yet so expressive, you don’t even need to understand the lyrics to feel what her character is going through. Linda has been long in the scene, she blew us away as the Killer Queen in the We Will Rock You musical (sadly no longer playing) and now she does it again as Regina, the hippy revolutionary, with a voice so strong and convincing, we don’t need the details of her cause – we just sign up and follow. And Miss Whittford as Justice, former soul singer and a fellow dreamer of the Strip, what a powerful stage presence and voice! Martijn Noort as Franz is a such a lovable, yet troubled character, who infects us with his strength to stand up for your heart’s true longing, no matter majority’s opinion. Julian Schier is very hard to catch among all this action, because he seems to be playing so many roles all at the same time?! It’s just so impressive how fast he can switch, flipping his singing roles like a trick of hands at cards. He remains recognizable, yet transforms in an instant into the shady producer/corrupt city mayor/wild rocker/whothefückcares, keep it coming Julian!

This is the rare case when the stage production is much better than a film, musically and visually. This is musical theater at its best – fun, exciting, memorable, immersive. Rock as it should be, loud, live and very emotional: you want to cry with the characters when they struggle, you want to laugh when they’re goofy and you’re inspired to conquer mountains when they finally find their path. You want to clap to every beat and rock on to every riff.
The Rock of Ages musical just went on tour and so when it is coming near you, definitely don’t miss your chance. So fetch your biker jacket, unpack your battle-vest and polish those cowboy boots – this is the show to be at this season!

PS: Stalker now has a new favorite rocker – Joey Prrrrrrrrrrrrrimo, we can’t wait to get a chance to interview him… please excuse me, as I go search for that backstage entrance …

Author: Marina Minkler
Photos: Nico Moser / ShowSlot

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski