Being a complete novice with the West End, I was clueless when booking, but went with the highest priced seats in the Grand Circle. We were directly overlooking the stage and the tiered seating meant an unrestricted view, even if we were a little further back than most, so I certainly wouldn't complain. However, if you have the funds then it is definitely worth giving the royal circle or stalls a go.
As for the important bit, the musical itself, it certainly suited our tastes as rock music lovers. The songs used vary a fair amount, meaning there is something for most people in there. Gleeks will recognise a couple of songs instantly, the famous 'Don't Stop Believin' ' of course, and Pat Benatars' 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'; there are a couple of ballads too, such as Foreigner's 'I Wanna Know What Love Is' for some slower moments. A fantastic interactive addition to the show is the distribution of fake lighters to the audience beforehand (keep an eye out for people walking around with bulging plastic bags and the official theatre t-shirts- we had to ask for ours), which you are encouraged to wave during the love songs, giving it a proper gig feel.
There is a good mix of well known rock, 'Here I Go Again' by Whitesnake and 'Wanted Dead or Alive' by Bon Jovi, for example, and some which you may not be as familiar with. My rock geek boyfriend knew most, but there were even a few surprises for him, such as Night Ranger's 'Sister Christian' and Steve Perry's 'Oh Sherrie'. Unfortunately Def Leppard did not give permission for their music to be used, so the song 'Rock of Ages' was an obvious absence. There were also some gaps which seemed a little unusual, such as Van Halen and Motley Crue, who both made their name on the Sunset Strip which provides the show's setting, but possibly again due to copyright. Overall though most people who don't even cite rock music as one of their favourite genres should know at least a third of songs well, and it is enjoyable even if you don't know all, as they fit into the storyline well.
At the beginning is an audio intro from Whistesnake's David Coverdale, who causes a great rumble of laughter by calling people who leave their phone on 'douchebags' and saying other pretty much completeley un-PC things (that we are no doubt all in agreement with!). That start is an indication of what to expect for whole thing to be honest, as well as the amazing set dressing. The Shaftesbury's beautiful classic style statues and chandeliers are strewn with bras and pants and vintage advertisements for alcohol and neon signs for strip clubs deck out the backdrop. It all sets the tone for the flurry of sex, drugs and rock and roll that really does explode onto the stage.
With strippers (don't worry, you don't actually see anything, so could see this as a family if you want, as many people around us were), booze on tap and seemingly drug addled rock stars as characters, this all you would expect from a rock based production. The storyline centres around a bar on the Sunset Strip which is in danger of being closed down by developers. Working there is a young man, wanting to be a rockstar, who meets an aspiring actress who also takes a job as a waitress for the time being. There is romance, great comedy (especially the character Lonnie- played by Russell Brand in the film version if that helps you imagine him) and just general fun rolled into one. It is a great night out and at the minute features two stars: Justin Lee Collins and Shayne Ward, so I would encourage people to see it soon, as both did excellent jobs and it would be a shame not to see their take on the characters. The rest of the cast were believable and fun too, and perhaps the best addition was a live band on stage, providing all the riffs and background music in proper style.
I would definitely recommend Rock of Ages if you want something fun and a bit different from your musical experience in the West End. Starting performances on Sundays too soon- a great bonus since hotels are usually cheaper on Sunday nights so you can make a proper trip of it- it is one worth watching if you like comedy, good music and a good sing along. The storyline itself may not be too amazing or different, although done well, but the experience as a whole is one that will leave you humming to yourself into the next week (if you are anything like me anyway!).