Review - Rock of Ages: filled with satire, fun, and heart
Above: Stevie Mac as Stacee Jaxx with the ensemble. Right: Rebecca Kenny-Sumiga as Justice Jayde Bielby as Sherrie
and Adam Goodall as Drew Boley,
Rock of Ages
Directed by Morgan Orth Musical Director – Nick Ng Choreographer – Shelley Scott
Presented by Phoenix Ensemble
Season: 5-27 October. Bookings: phoenixensemble.com.au or phone 07) 3103 1546
Summoning the Glam Metal Gods of Beenleigh, Phoenix Ensemble has rocked the roof off their tin shed.
In a tribute to the 1980s, the troupe has successfully paid homage to, for me, an unforgettable decade with their latest show Rock of Ages. Filling my heart with much nostalgia and costume envy, the show took audiences back to the Sunset Strip to experience a typical love story with a very metal twist.
For a tiny theatre space, Phoenix Ensemble is ambitious. Rock of Ages demands a lot from its performers – especially when trying to put on their own rock concert. That being said, the group dared to go big before the end. And with that, their latest gig is impressive.
Kudos needs to be given to the clever creative team behind the scenes of the show. Director, Morgan Orth, had a great understanding of the space and how to work it. The set, also designed by Morgan, featured solid scaffolding that could be used and abused appropriately. Stepping up around the edges of the stage, the levels moved action incredibly well – it even worked nicely with the assorted placing of the musicians, which was headed by Musical Director, Nick Ng. They didn’t miss a beat. Favourite songs like Feel the Noize, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Going to Take It and Here I Go Again had audiences moving in their seats and singing along.
The show as a whole felt gritty – exactly what the 1980s is all about. It was intimate, in your face, and audience members could see the hunger in the eyes of an ensemble who wanted to rock.
Among the cast, Scott Johnson was a stand-out as the delightfully witty narrator, Lonny. With boundless amounts of energy, he was charismatic, lovable and committed. Attention easily navigated his way, whenever he was on stage. Scott was also well supported by his laid-back counterpart, Dennis Dupree, played by Frog Johnson.
Another scene stealer was Stevie Mac as leading front-man Stacee Jaxx. He completely embodied everything about glam and hair metal. Hitting the right notes (especially for female audience members) he had suave moves, a hilarious aloof personality, and natural good looks.
Other memorable performances included Rebecca Kenny-Sumiga as strip-club owner, Justice. She had a killer voice, obvious theatrical experience and a stylish costume that channelled Stevie Nixx. Jayde Bielby, as Sherrie Christian, also had the perfect amount of innocent heroine gone astray and Adam Goodall as Drew Boley, certainly delivered on a challenge he stepped in at the last minute. Having seen Adam perform with Pannic Productions before, it was nice to see him onstage again in a role that definitely suits.
For its second night of performances, there were still a few teething issues present. Sound and microphone levels were sometimes askew, lighting transitioned slowly or left players in the dark, and a rogue 1990s Incubus shirt found its way into the wrong era. However, these small hiccups could easily be ignored. The show is bound to tighten as the group finds its groove; like good rock bands over time.
Phoenix Ensemble’s Rock of Ages keeps rock alive among the musical theatre world. Its electric anthems and moving ballads strike the right chord, making it hard not to appreciate the show for what it is. Filled with satire, fun, and heart, it perfectly sums up an era of incredible music.
Rock of Ages ends Phoenix Ensemble’s 2018 season with an absolute banger of a show. It’s loud, proud and well worth the drive. If you find yourself free, book a ticket as you won’t be disappointed.
Jayde Bielby as Sherrie Christian and Adam Goodall as Drew Boley. Below: Scott Johnson as Lonny and Frog Johnson as Dennis Dupree