Get out your leather pants, go crazy with hair spray and pump up the stereo. The ’80s are back baby, and some of the decade’s most beloved music is alive and well in the Ballarat Lyric Theatre production of Rock of Ages.
“It’s one of the most fun nights you’ll ever have. It’s more like a rock concert than a stage show!” says Keith McNamara, aka Lonny the Narrator. “It’s very raw comedy. Very rude comedy. Not one that you bring the kids to. It’s not The Sound of Music.”
While this is a regional show gracing Ballarat Her Majesty’s Theatre, don’t mistake it for an amateur gig. This show has some of the best in the business bringing you a Broadway quality story of ’80s partying and romance. “We’ve got real rock singers, real rock musicians up there on stage with a real rock production,” Keith says.
Directed by Stephen O’Neil (McNamara names him his “favourite director to work with”), the show also stars Josh McGuane as Drew, Stephen Armati as Dennis, and Erin Shay as Sherrie. With rehearsals underway, Kevin says the good times you’ll see on stage have naturally overflowed behind-the-scenes as well.
“I think there’s something about the music that brings out the beast in us…It’s a very young cast, a very attractive cast and we spend a lot of time in a hot room kind of being sweaty together,” he shares.
“You finish on a song like ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and everyone’s having a good old time, and…before you know it you kind of sing a song for four hours or something and then you’re in a really good mood, you know? It’s like you’re at a really good wedding reception or something,” Keith laughs, but the truth is that he can’t speak highly enough of his cast mates.
“It’s almost part three of a little tour group that started in Phantom and Miss Saigon…and there’s a lot of young ones,” he says.
Describing his character as “a Jack Black School of Rock,” (as if that’s not enough reason to see this live), McNamara loves ’80s music with a zeal, and he wants to make it clear that this is not your average musical.
“It doesn’t really take itself very seriously. As long as you’re aware that it’s a jukebox musical set in the ’80s and it doesn’t kind of arc. It doesn’t try to bring home a message or anything,” explains the friendly performer. “Just come in [and] grab a drink. It’s a really funny show with great music. Sing-a-long and go away feeling better than when you came in.”
Even if you can’t stand musicals, chances are you’ll be up and dancing with the best of them. “To put it simply it’s no Les Mis or Phantom, you know?” Keith says.
While many of us automatically think of the movie starring Julianne Hough, McNamara emphasises that the musical is very different.
“It’s more of a night out than the movie was. You know, it’s sort of rawer, more cartoony and a lot naughtier than the movie…It’s live and it’s a bit more attractive. The ad libs are a lot funnier,” he says. “They sort of toned it down a bit for the movie.”
Get to Ballarat’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from March 3-13 and let the stellar cast of Rock of Ages take you back to the ’80s. It’s an experience you won’t forget.