The musical comedy features more than 25 classic rock anthems – including We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Here I Go Again, Can’t Fight This Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is – “played loud and proud by an awesome live band”.
Rock of Ages, a Broadway and West End hit and a movie, stars Kevin Kennedy as “rock guru” Dennis Dupree, as far removed from mild-mannered bin man Curly Watts – the role that shot him to fame in Coronation Street – as you can get.
What can you tell us about Rock of Ages, Kevin? “It’s set in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. It’s about a rock club, the Bourbon Room, which is legendary – every band you could think of has played there. It’s an icon of rock’n’roll and absolutely the place to be, but the local council are attempting to close it down so we’re fighting them.
“Alongside all of that there’s a beautiful love story, lots of jokes and some of the most incredible music from the 80s.”
Where does Dennis Dupree fit into all this? “He’s the owner of the Bourbon Room, he’s an absolute rock guru. He’s given all these now legendary bands their stars and he’s been in bands himself. He’s got a good heart at his core but he’s a child of his 80s culture and loves sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!”
Kevin’s theatre credits include Chicago, We Will Rock You, The Commitments and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends, and he was the first actor to play both Caractacus Potts and the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He’s also been in several bands over the years. Is he enjoying indulging his musical side in Rock of Ages? “Oh yes, it’s incredible to put your two passions together. In a vehicle such as Rock of Ages a whole lot of fun. I was a young-ish man in the 80s and not a huge fan of dance music, so the last refuge of guitar music to a certain extent was that brilliant American glam-rock that we showcase in Rock of Ages.”
Has he drawn from his own experience as a musician? “It requires a lot of energy but once we’d done the hard work of learning the lines and where to stand we’ve been allowed to just have so much fun with it. Audiences are loving it.”
Favourite number? “Oh, the entire finale is my favourite as it’s just one big fat rock ‘n’ roll number. What I really enjoy is watching the other cast members doing their big solo numbers, they’re all so talented and it’s great to watch them.
Adds Kevin: “Theatre is one of the last true shared experiences you can have – along with football. In the theatre you’re all together, sharing one experience which is happening live, right in front of you. That in itself generates its own energy as no two shows are the same. If you want to come dressed in your leather trousers and embrace your inner 80s rock star then do that! Even bring along an inflatable guitar.”
* WHAT happens when the life of one woman lies in the hands of 12 others? Bingley Little Theatre presents the Yorkshire amateur premiere of The Welkin, a powerful play by Lucy Kirkwood.
The year is 1759. Sally Poppy, a young woman, is sentenced to hang for the murder of a child. Sally’s lover was also involved, and is tried and hanged. But, also condemned to death, Sally “pleads her belly”, claiming to be pregnant. A jury of 12 matrons are given a few hours to decide whether she’s telling the truth, or trying to escape the noose. Only midwife Lizzy Luke is prepared to defend Sally and tries to convince the women that she is pregnant.
Director Deborah Mouat says the play has “sadness, horror, humour, sex and violence” and looks at how women were treated in the 1700s: “I hope audiences enjoy this gripping drama full of twists and turns. We will have done our job well if it leaves them reflecting and feeling some emotion at the end.”
The Welkin is at Bingley Arts Centre, February 27 to March 4. Call (01274) 567983 or visit bingleyartscentre.co.uk
* REMEMBER Gary Barlow’s musical The Band, a tribute to Take That fans? Now it’s been re-titled as Greatest Days and is heading for the Alhambra this autumn. The show follows five friends, united by their love of a boy band in the 1990s, who reunite more than 20 years later to see their heroes one last time. Featuring Take That hits, the show broke box office records as The Band and delighted audiences from 2017-2019. Tickets are now on sale for Greatest Days, at the Alhambra September 18-21.
Also at the Alhambra (July 18-22) is Heathers The Musical, a black comedy rock musical based on the eponymous 1988 film starring Winona Ryder. Veronica Sawyer is a nobody at Westerberg High But when she’s accepted into the beautiful and cruel clique Heathers, her dreams of being popular finally become reality. Cue mysterious teen rebel JD, who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it’s murder being a somebody. Call (01274)432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk
* ROCK on Tommy! Our hearts broke for Tommy Cannon when his comedy partner of half a century, Bobby Ball, died in 2020. The duo dominated prime-time TV for more than a decade.
An actor, singer and comic, Tommy is returning to the stage in a variety show featuring clips, laughs and an audience Q&A. Meet the man who has made millions of us laugh since Cannon and Ball’s TV debut on Opportunity Knocks in 1968. An Evening With Tommy Cannon is at Bradford’s Studio theatre on Thursday, October 19.