Love Never Dies while Rock Lives On
Victoria is well known for attracting the best stage shows on offer and our fabulous Melbourne blogger Chantal gets a taste of two of best on offer within a few hours.
Neon signs flashed ‘girls, girls, girls’ and billboards advertised rock titles like ‘Show Me Your Cans’.Smoke filled the room and I strained to see through to the bar littered with eighties rock memorabilia – electric guitars, posters of rocks stars and brightly-coloured lace bras.
Melbourne’s latest hit musical, Rock of Ages, is not your typical masterpiece from the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber (but more on him later). Instead, this energetic, fun-fuelled, big-haired adventure is a musical journey back to the 80s. And it was here, at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, that I revisited the days when leg warmers were hip and West Coast Coolers were the drink of choice.
As hubby and I walked into the theatre it wasn’t hard to spot the hard-core rock fans – leather and lace in all the right places, and that was just the door staff. We were given plastic cigarette lighters to wave – a nice touch, I thought to myself as I sat counting the fluorescent panties hanging around the room. My hubby made himself right at home with a bourbon and Coke, and I knew he was in his element… I’d found his old Guns n’ Roses stash years ago.
Set in a famous Sunset Strip bar, Rock Of Ages is the story of a young couple; he a big-city dreamer hoping to make it as a rock star, she a small-town girl looking to make it as an actress in the bright lights of Hollywood. It’s love at first sight but as any true Poison fan knows, every rose has its thorn and the two are pulled apart by reckless rock lust.
The colourful characters, sexual innuendo and masterful stereotypes from the rocking late 80s see the stage crammed with countless hit songs from rock icons like Foreigner, Whitesnake, Journey, Poison and Pat Benatar. Rock of Ages doesn’t take itself too seriously, in fact, that’s just the point – it’s about a time when rock ruled and living was hard, fast and fun.
As the rock hits bellowed, I found myself living a moment of contrast. Only a few hours earlier we were standing in the ballroom of the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street, watching an exclusive preview performance from the stars of Love Never Dies, the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Not a bourbon to be seen, the small crowd gathered as the orchestra played songs from the musical, which opened officially in June. We were mesmerised as Anne O’Byrne, who plays Christine, started to sing. Barely taking a breath, Anne belted out such high notes that I was expecting my champagne glass to shatter. Her voice was so beautiful and so effortless that tears welled in my eyes.
Just as I pulled myself together, out came the Phantom, played by Ben Lewis, who sang the title song as tears rolled down my cheeks. I struggled with the realisation that music can take you to places that nothing can prepare you for. For me, it was Ben Lewis’ voice that carried me straight to the isolated ruins of Coney Island where the Phantom pined for his love Christine.
But back at the Comedy Theatre , no tears in sight, I sat among the rock revellers reliving the heyday of their youth and couldn’t have been happier. We waved our plastic cigarette lighters, screamed out the lyrics, and rocked all the way back to the indulgence of the Sofitel.