KEVIN Kennedy is in his element with his latest role, the party-loving club owner Dennis Dupree in the musical Rock of Ages.

“When you get to do a gig like this it’s not work, it’s a robbery,” he laughed. “It’s just fun from beginning to end.”

Set in 1980s’ Los Angeles, Rock of Ages is the ultimate jukebox musical packed with classic soft rock hits of the decade from bands such as Europe, Journey, Styx and Poison. It’s a time of big hair and excess where drink and drugs fuelled every night out.

As Dennis, Kevin runs the Bourbon Room in the show - which comes to Manchester Opera House next week. It follows the lives of the colourful characters who inhabit his world.

Kevin admits that there are similarities between himself and Dennis.

“Oh, he’s definitely a character I can relate to,” he said, with a wry smile. “Like me he’s been around a bit, he’s played with bands and Dennis has embraced the drug culture of the 80s with much enthusiasm and regularity.

“To play that on stage is quite fun.”

Kevin - still remembered for playing Curly Watts in Coronation Street - has overcome his own problems with alcohol and has been ‘clean’ for 20 years.

“Funnily enough my wife Clare said ‘Are you going to all right doing this?’ when I was offered the part,” he said. “I’m 20 years down the road now I don’t even think about it but I understood her concerns. But there is a part of me that quite enjoys all that side of Dennis’ character.

“I had a pint in my hand every night when I did the Commitments, but it’s not real.

“I basically get to do all the things I used to do but I can’t do now.

“Always having a bottle or some heavy drugs in my hand is actually quite cathartic,” he laughed.

Kevin has starred in a number of high profile musicals including The Commitments and We Will Rock You and to be in a show like Rock of Ages is a perfect role.

“I have got proper rock and roll bones,” he said. “I have played everywhere from little bars in Manchester to the Riverfest in Arkansas with Steve Earle and Hank Williams Jr so it’s nice to bring that experience on to the stage.”

Kevin actually has three albums to his name and in his early teens he formed a band which featured guitarist Johnny Marr who went on to fame with The Smiths.

“I started off with Johnny we were 14,” he said. “When I first saw him play the guitar, even though I was only 14 something in my head went ‘I’m witnessing something here. I don’t know what it is but this is special’. I was privileged to see that and he’s still a friend today.”

Manchester, Kevin believes, will be a perfect venue for Rock of Ages.

“There will always be a place for rock in Manchester,” he said. “I can remember when Jilly’s was the place to go in the city for a night out. Manchester has a long and proud history of music and it’s always had a bit of guts to it. Part of Manchester’s identity and very soul comes from stuff like this which is proper rock and roll.”

Amazingly it is 15 years since Kevin appeared in Coronation Street.

“All I ever wanted to be was a jobbing actor,” he said. “In 1980 when I left drama school I just wanted to act. Fame and all that stuff never crossed my mind unlike today where people want to be famous but they don’t know what for.

“I’d been acting for two or three years before Coronation Street came along and had appeared in the West End and done all sorts of shows. But it was with Coronation Street that the fame came along.”

Since his time on Britain’s favourite soap, Kevin has primarily worked in the theatre.

“There is an old saying which is films make you very rich, TV makes you very well known and theatre makes you very good,” he said. “I’m not trying to big myself up but I think there’s some truth in that.

“Obviously Coronation Street was important for me and I’m very proud of that legacy. It opened the door for me to do the kind of stuff I do now but that’s all it did. I still had to audition and prove myself and I think, touch wood, I have done that.”

In Rock of Ages, the cast share the stage with a live band.

“Oh, you can’t beat that,” said Kevin. “They are a mean-looking bunch and they really rock. It’s one of those crazy things that just happens in this business. I remember being in We Will Rock You and Brian May and Roger Taylor would occasionally join us on stage and I’d be thinking ‘this is mad. I’m from Wythenshawe, this doesn’t happen!’

“This show is just special. It’s a cross between between Rocky Horror Show, Spinal Tap and Romeo and Juliet. It’s designed for one thing – to give the audience the best time possible

“It’s an event and a night out and if you want to dress up in 80s’ finery or bring an inflatable guitar then go for it!”

Rock of Ages, Manchester Opera House, Tuesday, September 25 to Saturday, September 29. Details from 0844 871 3018 or