Darlington Civic Theatre

29th & 30th January 2010 – Ian Cain
Vampires Rock, Darlington Civic Theatre

Take the greatest rock anthems of all time, mix with the star quality of punk legend Toyah Willcox and add a story about vampires lurking in the New York of the near future and you have all the elements of Steve Steinman’s ‘Vampires Rock’.

The year is 2030, the place is New York’s seedier side, and the naive Pandora (played by Emily Clark) has decided to skip school in favour of attending an audition to be the Live and Let Die club’s new resident rock chick. Upon entering the hedonistic club, she encounters the janitor (played by John Evans) who, in turn, introduces her to Baron Von Rockula (played by Steve Steinman). Unbeknownst to Pandora, the Baron is an immortal vampire who has grown tired of his 2,000 year old wife, the Devil Queen (played by Toyah Willcox), and is on the lookout for a brand new bride. The pretty Pandora looks like the perfect candidate.

‘Vampires Rock’ is a riotous, raunchy romp through rock’s greatest hits, including classics by Queen, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler and AC/DC. The songs are delivered with energy and commitment and even the acoustics of the five piece band could not drown out the soaring vocals of Willcox, Steinman and Clark.

Steinman had no trouble establishing a rapport with the capacity crowd and was completely at ease when exchanging some playful banter with some good-humoured hecklers in the stalls. It is obvious that the show has a massive fan base, similar to the following that ‘The Rocky Horror Show enjoys, and just as evident that many of the crowd had seen it before.

Willcox looks and sounds better than ever and exudes attitude and sexiness in spades as the PVC-clad Devil Queen, who is none too pleased that her husband has decided to trade her in for a younger, fresher model. She gave rousing renditions of ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘School’s Out (for Summer)’ and ‘Rebel Yell’, although the decision to drop one of her biggest hits from the programme is, as the title suggests, a ‘Mystery’. Toyah, having already starred in ‘Calamity Jane’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, looked completely at ease in musical theatre and, if she ever decides to become a little more conventional, I could imagine she’d make a fabulous Mrs Johnstone in ‘Blood Brothers’.

Special mention must also be made of Emily Clark who, as Pandora, blossoms from being a demure and almost geeky schoolgirl into a fully-fledged feisty rock chick. Her vocal prowess ensured that she nailed every number that she’d been given, too.

If you love rock music, don’t mind vampires and aren’t averse to watching four sexy dancers cavort around the stage in corsets, leather, PVC and all manner of bondage gear, then this gory gothic spectacle is just the ticket. And if you didn’t manage to catch ‘Vampires Rock’ during its two sell-out nights at Darlington, don’t worry – Steve Steinman will return to the theatre with ‘Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom’ in April and ‘Bat out of Hell: The Symphony’ in May.

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