When a PR sent a classic email suggesting they loved my blog, and thought it was a perfect place for a review of the musical Rock of Ages, I wasn't surprised. I've had similar emails before - they obviously teach them at "PR school", and often have no relationship at all to your normal subject matter. But in this case I (and others) do review plays, just usually historic plays, modern avant-garde plays and children's plays. Rock musicals aren't usually in the mix - reflecting the fact perhaps that the team doesn't exactly fit the normal demographic profile of "big musical" audiences.
But in a moment of frivolity I thought "why not"? Which was how I came to find myself sitting in the Shaftesbury Theatre, its dressing as Sunset Boulevard 1987 looking incongruous against the 1911 plaster swirls.
Had I looked it up first I probably wouldn't have gone. The reviews were mostly terrible - the Guardian hated it, giving the dreaded one star, as did the Telegraph, as did the Evening Standard, only the Independent was cautiously positive.
It's perhaps telling, however, though that the readers' views in the Standard in terms of star ratings are more than double that of the reviewer's. And I have to say, rather to my surprise, that this was simply a fun evening.
There's nothing that could be called meaningful or significant, and the music is no one's idea of brilliance, but in a pretty well packed theatre, amid some 1,000 audience members, I had a good time. And some of them clearly had a glorious time, leaving glowing with pleasure.
It's not the story that does it. You really couldn't get a simpler small town boy and girl meet in big city, fall in love, boy loses girl but you know she'll return in the end storyline, with a siderun of nasty developer about to destroy city's heritage and culture, but he'll see the light in the end... (no, I don't think I'm giving away too much - your seven-year-old could work it out).
Perhaps it's in part the music. This glam rock (think Bon Jovi, Poison, REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister) was around and getting plenty of play in the mid to late 80s, and despite being in no way a music buff I recognised a good percentage of the songs. Familiarity is usually good for comfort.