Born in the '80s

Born in the ’80s

The Rock of Ages South African premiere transports you back in time with an electrifying tribute to the golden era of rock. By Pia Briscoe

Picture the scene: A troupe of musical-theatre performers wearing ripped denim and pleather, accessorised with outrageous hair and headbands, takes to the stage. It’s a high-energy display of oversized egos and endless guitar solos in celebration of an age when big-glamour rock bands were king. This is Rock of Ages.

After spending six years on Broadway, this outrageously funny smash-hit production travelled to Las Vegas, and then on a nationwide tour of the US, along with performances in Tokyo, Toronto, Sydney, Mexico City, Panama City, Manila, Malta and Singapore. Now this zany, dance-in-the-aisles musical extravaganza makes its South African debut at Gold Reef City, Joburg, in celebration of The Lyric’s 10-year anniversary.

Captivated and enthralled, audiences follow the love story of Detroit big-city boy Drew (played by The Voice SA runner-up Josh Ansley) and Sherrie (played by the talented Claire Taylor), a small-town girl from Paola, Kansas.

The year is 1987. The place is LA’s famous Sunset Strip. Each pursuing their dream of making it big, the pair meet at the fabled Bourbon Room, where Drew works as a busboy and Sherrie is a waitress.

An ode to the outrageous decadence and superficiality of the era, the plot is driven from one rock anthem to the next. Audiences are brought on a roller-coaster ride as Drew and Sherrie discover their feelings for each another – complicated by a healthy dose of misunderstandings, a little deception and a good measure of humour.

The actors frequently break the fourth wall to address the audience, and it’s this interaction between those on stage and those in the seats that provides additional laughs.

The show features 28 nostalgic rock anthems (from the likes of Styx, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and Poison). Audiences can rock out to ‘We Built This City’, ‘Just Like Paradise / Nothin’ But a Good Time’, ‘I Wanna Rock’, ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’, ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ and many more legendary songs!

Calum Stevenson, theatre manager at Gold Reef City, says, ‘We are delighted to be working with VR Theatrical in producing Rock of Ages. The Lyric opened its doors with Hairspray, and it’s fitting to celebrate its 10-year anniversary by staging this Broadway musical comedy hit.’

Audiences can look forward to high-energy performances from sensational South African talents Zak Hendrikz (Lonny), Craig Urbani (Dennis Dupree), Andrew Webster (Stacee Jaxx), Natasha van der Merwe (Regina) and Mpumelelo Mayiyane (Justice). The high-octane hits are performed by an incredible live band led by acclaimed musical director Wessel Odendaal.

Due to the hedonistic nature of some scenes, this production is not suitable to those under 14 years old. But bring your friends to end the year in a shower of glory … rock ‘n’ roll glory!

To book tickets, visit

Photography: paul kolnik (from broadway production)/courtesy image


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