If you have been reading my blog a while you will know that I love a rock musical so when Center Stage invited me to their compilation show with a rock concert vibe I was incredibly keen. Center Stage’s Huge Stick of Musical rock takes 16 different rock musicals, 27 songs, a band of 6 and a choir of 30 and turns it into a show.
My first observation was how much I loved the song choices, there were the rock classics that you would expect to see in a show of this kind as well as a few curveballs such as ‘Bouncing Off The Walls’ from Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ from American Psycho, both of which were new to me. The songs were all high energy and there wasn’t one song that I would have skipped if this was a Spotify Playlist. My only slight quibble is that I would argue that Dear Evan Hansen isn’t a rock musical/ You Will Be Found is not a rock song however I love the show and the song itself so I was more than happy to listen to it.
Even though the songs were all from rock musicals the show itself had a good amount of audience variety in it and kept the interested throughout. The pace changed within the show and there were some numbers which just focused on the music whereas other numbers had high octane dance routines.
It is hard in a show like this to talk about principals and ensemble as nearly all of the cast had their moment in the spotlight fronting a number. It is testament to the talent on stage that Center Stage were able to make this happen. Whilst all of the cast were undoubtedly talented there were some stand out singers. For example El Leaper fronted the finalie, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and she not only had a strong rock belt and an ability to riff effortlessly but she also had a warm presence on stage that made the audience smile when watching her. I also really enjoyed vocal performances from Bryce Kehoe who delivered ‘One Song Glory’ from Rent effortlessly and Sanchez Collingwood-Simpson who fronted ‘What’s The Buzz’ from Jesus Christ Superstar whose voice I could have happily listened to a lot more from.
The show wasn’t just about the vocals. There was a lot of dance packed into these numbers, with some of the more dancey numbers choreographed by Sara Ramirez and Peter Stonnell. The movement throughout the whole show was well considered and they weren’t afraid to use moments of stillness and simple movements when a whole routine wasn’t required however when the whole cast were on stage dancing the energy level was at 100!
My main gripe with the show however was the sound balance. I am someone who likes shows loud so I do surprise myself in writing this but at times it was a bit too loud. I don’t think this was helped by the fact that the band and the ensemble were amplified so much that at times I struggled to hear the soloists above everything else. Costume design was also well considered as each cast member had their own vibe yet the look was very cohesive thanks to themes or color pallets running throughout segments. I must also commend the body positivity on stage which I was living for!
Center Stage’s Huge Stick of Musical Rock is a show that is bursting with energy, brilliant song choices as well as performers with seriously good rock vocals. If you a partial to a rock musical then get yourself to the Bridewell to have your face melted….in the best sense possible.
Center Stage’s Huge Stick of Musical Rock is running at the Bridewell Theater until Saturday 30th July. You can find out more and book tickets on their website.
If you like this review you might also like my review of Cats by Center Stage, Toxic Avenger by Festoon Theater Company and American Idiot by Sedos