On Tour With Rock of Ages 2024 (Episode 2 – Cologne, 22nd to 27th March 2024)

This year, I take you on my tour-chasing of the German Rock of Ages musical. The first trip report episode took you to two shows in Bochum. Now I shared my thoughts about the ones in my home town Cologne. I have to say that I was a bit of nervous before these shows. First of all, the shows at the Theater am Tanzbrunnen are my home town shows, truly something special. Additionally, after the German tour had added to extra shows to the venue compared to the original plan, I had eight shows in a row on six days there. So far, my “record” was five shows in Peterborough with the British cast. I just felt I had to sweep my home town this time. On top, I was looking forward to have some shows together with my wife Sarah – the only time to do so on that tour.

Another point I was looking forward to was exploring whether this massive load of the show will get boring to me in any way. In the U.K. tour I was typically sad after Saturday evening show knowing that I won’t be in the following week. But the British tours and resident productions also came with a different character. Let’s explore my emotions together with you. Here is the second part of my trip review.

Episode 2 – Cologne

The Cologne shows have been held in the Theater am Tanzbrunnen, a venue which belongs to the Cologne Trade Fair. The rather round venue has a capacity (seated) of some 1,100. The musical, however, cannot use it to the full extent, as the wing seats do not have a view of the stage. It is a some ten minutes walk away from the Cologne Trade Fair / Deutz (Köln Messe / Deutz) rail station, which is also serving high speed rail connections. There are a couple of bus connections, which stop at the nearby Im Rheinpark station. Apart from parking lots driven by / for the Tanzbrunnen itself (which is also driving a major open air venue), you can use the HDI insurance and RTL TV station parking garages for some of the shows (which is a bit confusing – only one of the parking options is typically available, parking fee is roughly 10 Euro).


Day 1 – 22nd March 2024

I had returned from a business trip to Dublin just the night before the Cologne shows. Together with a trip to Krakow, that meant I just had three nights at home since the Bochum shows. Like in Bochum, the first show came with some cast replacements. I generally love to see the covers and swings on stage, so I was definitely looking forward to the evening. Due to the short distance from my home, I could even take the bus to the venue, a very convenient luxury.

Even though there were some issues, the cast did a brave job. There were some minor difficulties in the first act, the second one therefor went very smooth and close to perfection. The Cologne crowd was definitely more cheerful than the two ones I saw in Bochum before, which the cast honored with some extra rounds of coming back to stage after the show. In absence of some of the main cast members, the covers and swings came into focus. Some of them did a fabulous job. The frizzy hair John Vooijs did an amazing Dennis Dupree and Liam Tiesteel as Franz received a lot of love from the Rheinland crowd.

However, also some of the side roles and cast members made profit of some additional spotlight. For example, Paul Fruh (Major / Ja’keith) did a really nice job. I also loved Maria Pambori in the cast. Benjamin Hauschild felt like the state-of-the-art Lonny already – even though I look forward to see Timothy Roller on stage in later shows. Overall, I went back home very happily, but also exhausted – and asked myself how I will stand seven additional shows in my home town.


Day 2 – 23rd March 2024 (14:30 Show)

For the “double-header” on Saturday, I opted to travel in by car and make use of the time between the shows. The show was almost sold out, but unfortunately, the audience was really lame in the first act. The cast, still suffering some replacements, did not deserve that. Especially Stephanie Löblich, wo debuted as Sherrie, did a fabulous job. Personally, I felt quite exhausted, and urgently had to have some food in the intermission. The pretzel option provided last year is no longer available. The trade fair driven venue solely offers a food truck outside the venue. Offering fries, sausage and crepes feels a bit too limited. The second act went much better in regards of the audience. Overall, I feel that this is happening rather frequently, also in British shows.

You have to mention Felix Freund as Drew, who is doing a very steady performance in his main character role. The interpretation differs slightly from the shows I have seen in English-speaking countries. Felix does it a bit more on the clumsy side. The more I watch it, the more I enjoy it. Overall, it was a good matinee, giving me some two hours relaxing in the car before heading back into the Theater am Tanzbrunnen. Not only the cast needed this time for relaxing definitely.


Day 2 – 23rd March 2024 (19:30 Show)

For the second show of the day, Julia Taschler came back in the role of Sherrie, after she had duties on an Austrian stage the day before. Evening shows tend to have a better audience somehow – maybe I am not too unlucky that I don’t have that many of them on my agenda. However, I felt that this time the crowd had been even a bit of better in the first act. Thanks to Sasha Di Capri (Stacee Jaxx), I caught another piece of female underwear he is throwing into the audience in the first act.

Overall, I really enjoyed the show. Maybe also due to the rather aggressively priced food truck, the only source of nutrition in and close around the venue and some caffeine pills, I felt much better than in the afternoon show. I more and more speak and think the German dialogues instead of the English original ones during the show. Feels like this cast more and more won my heart. After the show I had some quick chats with some cast members. Rock of Ages connects people – there is something which unites you, with fans and cast members of the musical. Five more shows in Cologne upcoming. After I had been not too optimistic about whether I will stand that in the afternoon, I was already looking forward to Sunday when I finally drove home. And to Monday, to Tuesday, to Wednesday…


Day 3 – 24th March 2024 (2 Shows)

Sunday featured the second double-header in a row. This is a big demand, not only for myself, but especially for the cast. It has been the same for both shows. I have been absolutely excited to see Timothy Roller as Lonny for the first time, who is great in connecting to the people. Seeing so many shows in a row gives you the opportunity to switch focus here and there – and thus I took the opportunity to what is happening outside the main focus of the stage. One artist, who is doing a very reliable performance is, for example, Erika del Re, who is typically acting in the cast. She is typically not having too many dialogues, but regardless whether she acts as a school girl or as one of the dancers in the Venus Club, it is a pleasure to see her on stage. The first show was almost sold out,

A special feature of the day for me has been that my wife joined me, which was only going to happen in three shows in Cologne. After having a lovely pizza dinner, we headed to the second show. Especially in the second act, you did feel that two double-headers in a row are not just getting exhausting for me, but also for the cast members. There were some text issues, but overall, the show was fine. For the second time in Cologne, the right wing of the first row was empty in the first act, which felt absolutely weird. The show was not at all sold out. However, it was one of two Cologne shows which have been added to the calendar later. While I felt that my wife Sarah will be selected for the complimentary prosecco at the beginning of the show, Timothy surprised me by selecting myself. By the way, my wife loved the performance by Stephanie Löblich as Regina / Ragina – and I can just simply agree to that. Really love watching the Austrian actor.


Day 4 – 25th March 2024

Three more shows to go in Cologne – and the first one after a long workday. Sarah joined me again on that Monday evening, which was a very special to me. The eighth Rock of Ages show in Cologne overall – which also meant that Cologne finally surpassed Sunderland (7 shows) as the city in which I have seen the musical the most. I cannot deny that I am a bit of nerdy in that. Regarding my physical condition, the show had definitely been the hardest one so far for me. Monday is always a bit more busy with due to the Country Music Playlists – and I also had a rather long day at work before. I felt really sleepy before the show. No reason not to rock the Theater am Tanzbrunnen that night.

The cast had to suffer some absences and off-times on that Monday evening. The show was definitely not the best regarding the exactness to the script, but that also left some room for a touch of improvisational theater. I always used to love that in the British shows. Thus, apart from my physical condition, I really loved to the show. For example when Major / Bürgermeister Julian Schier lost his glasses and his microphone at the beginning of the play, he did great to play on and caused some extra laughs. He even managed to greet the cast members of the Abenteuerland musical, who visited Rock of Ages that evening, implicitly. Martijn Noord gave Felx Freund a well-deserved break as Drew.

The queen of the evening was, however, Kim Unger, who played two roles in parallel, Regina / Ragina and Constance. The lack of female cast members available was also a burden to the female cast, especially Kellnerin 1 / Waitress No. 1 Lillian Nikolic and the angels Maria Pombori and Erika Del Re, who did a fantastic performance under these conditions on that evening. My wife had her 15th Rock of Ages show overall – and her last one on this tour, I was really thankful for that on that day. I hoped to recover well before the next one.


Day 5 – 26th March 2024

Just two shows left. Even though there was another night with too little sleep, I felt better about that day, again coming from the office directly to the Cologne theater. The show the day before was crazy, I felt exhausted, but I was somehow looking forward to it. Without Sarah, I was happy to have some nice neighbors. I felt much better than the days before – and even if I would have been weak, this evening would have been the easiest way to boost me completely. Kim Unger stepped in as Sherrie this evening and with Lisa Becker (Kellnerin 1 / Waitress No. 1) and Stephanie Löblich (Regina / Ragina), the cast was at full strength on the female side again. The show was an absolute sensation, with the first act being the best I saw so far on that tour (and this day in Cologne was my ninth experience overall).

I have to mention all the actors who played all the Cologne shows, like Amanda Whitford, who is doing a really catching Justice or Sasha D Capri (Stacee Jaxx). Especially the role of Justice is so important for the musical. Even though other characters are more present on stage, Amanda’s powerful voice is just adding such an energetic blast on stage. Timothy Roller played a great Lonny and Benjamin Hauschild and Martijn Noort did great as Hertz and Franz Kleinmann. But also the “minor” roles like Valerio Croce (Joey Primo) gave so much energy to the play – it is just so hard to point out individual actors on an evening which I will definitely remember for a long, long time. I was so happy to be able to catch up with some of them after the show and thank them. I was so damn thankful for that experience, even knowing that the last Cologne show was now ahead.


Day 6 – 27th March 2024

I cannot deny a certain level of tiredness before the show. Even though I shortened my workday and could work at home, there was also quite a lot to do for my upcoming Pittsburgh Penguins trip, before I finally headed to the venue for the very last show. Even though I knew that there were still ten Rock of Ages shows ahead, it felt emotional to say farewell to the lovely company in my town. The final show in Cologne was officially sold out again. After the outstanding Tuesday performance, I of course could not expect this one might be even better. However, the cast did another really good job, lead by the outstanding main actors Felix Freund and Sherrie Christian.

The crowd was good and the cast thanked them with a couple of farewells, ending in a Cologne, we love you by Amanda Whitford (Justice). Even though it was a somehow sad moments (luckily, there are some ice hockey matches ahead, so that I have some entertainment on the evening), it felt lovely to have some chats with various cast members after the show. More and more, it felt like a looking forward to the next stages, Vienna and Duisburg, even though both just come with a single show from my side.


Some Final Thoughts

Wow, Cologne was amazing to me. Indeed, there were some physical issues on the weekend and the hard chairs at the Theater am Tanzbrunnen. But overall, it was one of the best Rock of Ages times of my life. It might sound more harsh as I mean it, but so far the German shows were somehow also a nice intermission for me, until the day the show is back in English in the United Kingdom. Cologne changed that. I followed the German script, I followed the German choreography. Of course, these shows in Cologne made me miss my Rock of Ages friends in the British musical scene. But Cologne made the German tour feel like a new, second RoA home to me.

Thanks to the lovely cast, first of all the dear Lisa Becker, catching up with the actors after some of the shows felt like I am used to. I love to use the #rockofagesmeansfamily hashtag. This might feel weird and nerdy, but I am now also linked to this family in my home. I cannot list all the lovely people in here, from tour management, technical staff, the band to the actors, but I am really thankful for this feeling and for all the hugs the last days. Hope that the community is growing. These days will stay in my heart.


All pictures have been taken with my amateur equipment in the finale of the show.


On Tour with Rock of Ages 2024 – My Trip Report

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