Share this article

A dissolute preacher man, an ageing rocker, an accomplished band and an epic journey across the US in search of Rocky Rhodes – American Anthems is a must-see.
ROCKY Rhodes was the world’s biggest rock star in the early 1990s, but then he mysteriously disappeared the day before his 27th birthday and a sell-out concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Andy Wood is lead vocalist for American AnthemsAndy Wood: Lead vocalist of American AnthemsRoute 66 FM took up the gauntlet and decided to track Rocky across the United States, just so that it could bring him back for one final concert. The trip covers places like Las Vegas and Memphis, and features a cast comprising a naughty reverend, an ageing rocker and the rest of Rocky’s band.

Some of the world’s best-loved rock tunes are brought roaring to life by this unlikely group, so that everyone can appreciate the finest American Anthems, which is playing at the Joburg Theatre.

Classics such as Hotel California, Living on a Prayer, Jolene, Sweet Child of Mine and Knocking on Heaven’s Door are expertly recreated and performed in true rock fashion, which will have audiences fighting the urge to jump out of their seats and mimic an air guitar of good old rock ‘n roll proportions.

It is as much a celebration of American rock music history as it is a fun tale of searching for a missing star.

The impish reverend with a predilection for alcohol and womanising definitely steals the show, belting out hits like Walking in Memphis and Son of a Preacher Man with comedic flair. The irony of a man of the cloth pursuing the sins of the flesh is embellished upon, making it an interactive experience as the audience gets caught up in his descent down the slippery slope.

In the cast of 14, Rob Castel plays the spirited preacher man; he performs alongside equally talented singers, dancers and musicians who bring the search for the elusive Rhodes to techni-coloured life. Accomplished performers Ged Graham and Andy Wood star as the two other lead male vocalists.

Rebecca Kelly and Tiffany Low are the lead female vocalists; and Robyn Ford, Abbie Porter, Helen Stainsby and Stephanie Hyde are the energetic dancers. Music so good you would be mistaken for thinking it was the original band comes from the keyboard of Liam Holmes, the drums of Barrie Cooper and the guitars of Nathan O’Borne, Adam Evans and Mike Flynn.

The musical is produced by John Mills of Essence Productions, in association with Harley-Davidson UK, and is directed by Ross Mills.

Direct from its tour of the United Kingdom, the show has come to South Africa for the first time on an exclusive visit to the Joburg Theatre. “I’m delighted that we have, after some amount of searching, found a classic show for rockers,” said the theatre’s chief executive officer, Bernard Jay, ahead of the show’s opening.

American Anthems will be on the Nelson Mandela stage until 11 March; shows are at 8pm from Tuesdays to Fridays, 5pm and 8pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays.

Tickets start from R120 and can be bought directly online on the Joburg Theatre website or by phoning the theatre’s ticketing line on 0861 670 670. Discounted rates are available for groups of 10 or more; phone 011 877 6853/4.

The Joburg Theatre Complex is on Loveday Street in Braamfontein.

Related stories:

Sing along to American Anthems
Year of music at Joburg Theatre
Welcome to the jungle
Joburg Theatre turns 50
Related links:

Joburg: art, culture and heritage