Sunderland feels the noise as Rock of Ages rolls in to Empire Theatre

We built this city on rock and roll!

Thursday, 25th July 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th July 2019, 7:00 am
Rock of Ages is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, July 27. Picture: ©The Other Richard
Rock of Ages is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday, July 27. Picture: ©The Other Richard

At least, that’s the impression you’d get if you happened to be passing by the Sunderland Empire Theatre during the venue’s run of the incomparable Rock of Ages.

Opening on Tuesday, July 23, the show promises an evening of debauchery, dancing and – of course – everything loud, proud and ‘80s.

So dig out the leather trousers, denim vest and bandana because we’re about to take a journey to Sunset Boulevard.

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Let me set the scene; the club is hazy, sweaty and sticky with whisky and beer on the floor.

But the Bourbon Room (a homage to West Hollywood’s famous Whisky a Go Go) is at risk as property developers plot to flatten the venue and surrounding Strip.

Cue Drew (Luke Walsh), a busboy with a dream to make it big, and Sherrie (Jodie Steele), the country girl with big dreams of becoming an actress.

The two meet, there’s a spark, and so much happens between them before the show’s ending (more of which later).

This fast and furious show is absolutely packed with excellence – so much so, that I’m struggling to pick out all of my favourites.

We know the boy can dance, but man can he sing! Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive and Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is are huge highlights.

Now, I’m a sucker for a love story – and there are more of them then you might expect during Rock of Ages.

Kevin Clifton as Stacee Jaxx. Picture: ©The Other Richard.

As much as I invested in the tale of sweethearts Sherrie and Drew (spoiler, they work things out) my heart belonged to club owner Dennis and narrator Lonny.

It was their rendition of I Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon that got me right in the gut.

Impeccably played by Kevin Kennedy (Corrie’s Curly Watts, never forget) and Lucas Rush respectively, these characters sum up the show’s essence; outrageous, hilarious and totally addictive.

So Don’t Stop Believin’ in rock and roll – and try to catch this show before it journeys out.

Rock of Ages UK Tour. Picture: ©The Other Richard.
Jodie Steele and Luke Walsh as Sherrie and Drew. Picture: ©The Other Richard.