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An epic medieval tale meets rock, as Knights Of The Rose opens in the West End at the Arts Theatre. The Jennifer Marsden created musical features music by the likes of Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf, No Doubt and many more.
Headlined by five huge Bon Jovi tracks; Blaze Of Glory, Blood On Blood, Always, Bed Of Roses and This Is Love, This Is Life, the music accompanies a tale of betrayal, love, bloodshed and redemption.
With the production running at the Arts Theatre until the 26 August 2018, here’s everything you need to know about the new musical:
The noble Knights of the Rose must defend their House and their honour. Even as the chivalrous knights return from a glorious victory, a greater threat against the kingdom stirs. As they face the greatest battle of the age and betrayal threatens to tear them apart, can true love and honour triumph?
Knights Of The Rose follows the plight of Gawain, Hugo, Palamon, John, Horatio and more as they are torn between their duty as knights and their often conflicting loves. The story provides the backdrop for some of modern music’s biggest power ballads, laid over medieval action and dialogue borne out of the success of Game Of Thrones and its ilk.
The knights question the roles and responsibility of honour, power, love and duty in a tale of rivalry, jealously and murder.
Knights Of The Rose is directed and choreographed by Racky Plews, whose theatre credits include Thoroughly Modern Mille, Summer Holiday, American Idiot, Footlose and many more.
Andy Moss, star of Hollyoaks and Doctors, plays lead character Gawain. Known for his role as Rhys Ashworth in the Channel 4 drama, Moss most recently starred as Sam Wheat in the Ghost The Musical UK tour.
“We are incredibly excited to have Andy onboard as our hero Gawain,” director and choreographer Racky Plews said upon announcement. “Andy not only embodies this heroic knight but also has the powerhouse rock vocals that bring justice to these beloved and classic songs.”
Andy Moss joins Adam Pearce (King Aethelstan) Chris Cowley (Palamon), Oliver Saville (Hugo), Rebecca Bainbridge (Queen Matilda / Bess), Rebekah Lowings (Isabel), Matt Thorpe (Horatio), Ruben Van keer (John), Katie Birtill (Hannah) and Bleu Woodward (Emily). Ian Gareth-Jones, Kelly Hampson and Tom Bales make up the ensemble.
As well as the five tracks by Bon Jovi, Knights Of The Rose is filled with huge power ballads and nods to medieval history. Other tracks include Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler, The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, Changes by Black Sabbath, and more.
The songs sit within the twisting plot, supporting the troubled love of the main characters. At one moment Rose princess Hannah, portrayed by Katie Birtill, and best friend Isabel (Rebekah Lowings) launch into Bonny Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero to describe their need for love. Later renowned knight Hugo (Oliver Savile) asks “would you dance if I asked you to dance?” before using Enrique Iglesias’ modern ballad, Hero, as a reply.
The likes of R.E.M’s Everybody Hurts and The Hollies’ classic He Ain’t Heavy… unfold during a particularly mournful moment, with Wherever You Will Go by The Calling retold from a mother’s perspective. This just begins to scratch the surface when it comes to the production’s song choices.
It’s a jukebox musical like no other, injecting some of the biggest ballads into a medieval tale of love, loss and betrayal. It finds particular strength in the lead performances, with credit to Chris Cowley as the rebellious Palamon and Matt Thorpe as the extremely likeable Horatio. Andy Moss easily holds his own as head knight Gawain, whilst the chemistry between the thunderously toned Adam Pearce as King Aethelstan and Rebecca Bainbridge as Queen Matilda is unquestionable.
Vocally, each member of the cast is on point, inciting reserved singalongs in the audience as some of modern music’s most iconic ballads ring out. Their acting is also commendable, most notable in a poignant scene led by Pearce as petals fall from the theatre’s ceiling onto the stage.
As a whole, Knights Of The Rose is heavily influenced by the recent popularisation of medieval folklore, thanks in no small part to Game Of Thrones. Yet the musical injects a level of fun, a subtle metaphorical wink as Palamon grabs the electric guitar from the wings for a moment of pure melodrama. And melodramatic it is, at times powerful and at others filled with knowing humour.
The production is now running at London’s Arts Theatre, booking until Sunday 26 August 2018.
The show starts at 19:30 Monday, Wednesday – Sunday, with no performances on Tuesdays. There are also matinee performances at 15:00 on Thursday and Saturday.
Knights Of The Rose runs for approximately two and a half hours, including a twenty minute interval.
Tickets for Knights Of The Rose are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Photos by Mark Dawson