It’s a show about making it in life, says Noel Sullivan – something Noel himself knows a thing or two about.
Rock Of Ages is at the Mayflower, Southampton, from September 9-13, with Noel starring as Drew Boley in the ultimate rock mix-tape musical, an hilarious story of dreams, love and rock.
Celebrating the classic 80s rock culture, the show tells the story of a small-town girl and a big-city rocker falling in love to the greatest songs of the decade, with hits including We Built This City, The Final Countdown, I Wanna Know What Love Is and Don’t Stop Believin’.
Following a three-year run in London’s West End, it’s now out on tour – and Noel is having a ball.
“It’s incredible. I get to sing some of the greatest songs. Just to hear those songs live again is great, but to sing them is brilliant.
“My character Drew is an aspiring musician who works in a bar in Los Angeles. It charts the course of true love, but it is also a huge comedy as well. With juke-box musicals, the plots are usually paper thin, but the difference with Rock of Ages is that it highlights that fact and sends it up. The audience are expecting one thing, and then you can feel it happen when the penny drops.”
For Noel, part of the fun is that he isn’t like Drew at all: “I am the polar opposite. He is quite laid back, but I have always known that I wanted a career in musical theatre. I have worked hard to get to this point. Drew is kind of expecting that it will all fall into his lap.”
Noel, on the other hand, knows that that’s not the way it happens. He points out that to get the part he had no fewer than nine auditions. In Noel’s business, you’ve got to know what you want and you’ve got to have the determination to make it happen.
“I had singing lessons from an early age. Being Welsh, that’s what we do!”
When the pop group Hear’Say came along, people thought it was just something Noel had fallen into: “But I had actually worked my entire life in music trying to make it happen.”
The fact is that he had put himself in a good position. Having trained as a chorister, coming from a strong choral background, and having understudied for the Welsh National Opera, Noel was ready.
“That classical side stood me in good stead in terms of all the discipline that you get from choral work.”
And now he’s reaping the rewards: “There are not many jobs you can do where you can get an entire audience up on their feet and singing. People can get a bit snobby towards this kind of musical theatre, but I think it is great.”
Noel’s previous credits include Tick in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Theatre Royal Brighton last Christmas and Galileo in We Will Rock You and Danny Zuko in Grease, both in the West End. Other theatre credits include young Yusef Islam in Moonshadow (Royal Albert Hall) and Nick Piazza in Fame the Musical (Edinburgh Playhouse).