Now, out of all the musicals I’ve seen- and believe me, I’ve seen a lot!- Rock Of Ages is one that’s never really appealed to me. Full of 1980’s Rock classics, hence the name, this show is certainly not your average musical theatre piece, but Splinters25, which was formed to celebrate 25 years of the original company, put on a brilliant show, with excellent principles and energetic choreography.
The show beings with the character Lonny Barnett (played by Mark Holmes), who acts as the narrator and provides comedic relief throughout. This character breaks the sacred fourth wall at various points during the show, something not often seen in musical theatre productions, however Mark Holmes did this in such a clever way that it almost seemed natural to him. As the show begins, Lonny introduces us to Drew Boley (played by Adam Walker), an aspiring rocker working in The Bourbon Room, a rock bar found on the Sunset Strip and owned by music guru Dennis Dupree (Daniel Storey). Drew instantly falls for girl next door Sherrie Christian (Jess Curr) who leaves her hometown in Kansas to follow her dream of acting all the way to LA. Both Walker and Curr demonstrated great vocal talent throughout, with both lead roles having to deal with incredibly demanding songs, which were performed very well. Jess Curr’s acting talent was also superb, especially in the more emotional and reflective scenes and I felt that she really connected with the character.
As the Sherrie/ Drew romance starts to blossom, the residents of the Sunset Strip and regulars in The Bourbon Room are faced with disaster as developers Hertz Kleinman (Pete Lane) and his son Franz (Matthew Bevan) suggest bulldozing the strip in favour of more clean living, ultimately threatening the ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ lifestyle of the city. This doesn’t go down well with the Mayor’s assistant Regina Koontz, who starts a protest group and discovers a spark with Franz during the process. Pete Lane and Matthew Bevan worked perfectly together and the father- son duo were both talented and entertaining. Danni Hibbert was also fabulous in her role as Regina Koontz, with great vocal talent and excellent acting skills, notably in the more intense scenes towards the end of the show.
The entire cast and crew gave their all to the performance and there was no doubt that it was a feel good evening for us all. The audience was clapping along throughout and it was great to see people singing along, albeit quietly, to songs they’d only ever sing after a few too many beers. Unfortunately, there were a few instances in which the band drowned out the libretto and singing from cast members, as well as a few technical issues with microphones not being on for certain cast lines, but, due to my being in the audience on the opening night, I’d put this down to a few teething problems. For me, the only other downside was the lack of precision with the harmonies. It seemed as if the ensemble was almost competing with one another to push their own voices further rather than working together and blending the sound to create the smooth backing vocals required for many of the songs. Despite this, I still had an amazing night in the Octagon Centre, a quirky venue that was perfect for this show. Everyone involved with the show should be very proud of themselves, and I cannot wait to see what Splinters and Splinters25 do next.