“Rock of Ages: Tenth Anniversary Tour” rocked onto the stage at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center last Thursday.
The musical follows Sherrie Christian (Katie LaMark) and Drew Boley (Stephen Rochet) as they both chase their respective dreams. Sherrie wants to be an actress and ventures to Los Angeles where she meets Drew, an aspiring rock musician.
Rochet — originally an understudy — stepped up big with his performance. He used his acting skills and booming vocals to impress the crowd almost every time he had a line. Despite being an understudy, Rochet and LaMark showed wonderful chemistry and did a great job at portraying wannabe lovers.
The narrator, Lonny (John-Michael Breen,) comically kept the show moving along. Breen’s comedic timing had the crowd laughing out loud all night. However, Breen’s performance almost seemed intentionally obnoxious, and his character grew tiresome at some points with his nonstop innuendos and sexual comments. His near constant interjections sometimes over-shadowed the overarching love story between Drew and Sherrie.
Another character that stood out was Stacee Jaxx (Sam Harvey), the lead singer of the band “Arsenal,” who leaves the group to go solo. As one of the main antagonists, Harvey perfectly portrayed the sex-crazed, womanizing rocker. His pompous demeanor made the audience love to hate him.
Instead of walking a fine line between risqué jokes and mature dialogue, the show ran past that line and never looked back. The musical presented a stereotypically accurate version of 1980s Los Angeles, complete with drugs, sex, eccentric hair styles and rock‘n’roll. This atmosphere gave the show leeway to be as raunchy as it wanted.
There were no weak spots within the cast when it came to singing. The show features many classic rock songs from the ‘80s, including Starship’s “We Built This City,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” to which the audience sang along.
However, the cast’s best musical performance of the evening came at the end. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” perfectly sums up the musical’s theme of fighting adversity and chasing your dreams.
The stage set-up was impressive. Two different levels on-stage allowed for two scenes and two settings to happen at the same time. This also gave the cast the ability to smoothly transition into other places quickly within the story. For example, one moment the actors were in the streets of LA and the next they were in the Bourbon Room, a bar where a lot of the story takes place.
The dance scenes were near mesmerizing to witness. The choreographer, Janet Rothermel, did a great job at creating the dances. Some of the actors would often dance on the second floor of the set while other actors would do the same dance on the first floor in another setting entirely. This presented a dynamic that reminded the audience that every character is connected in some way.
Fourth wall breaks were common in the musical, as Lonny often addresses the audience. He shows Drew a program of the show and tells him he was a part of a performance. These meta moments helped mask the predictability of the show, an aspect that Lonny points out, showing that his character is self-aware.
“Rock of Ages” is an enjoyable experience and was a great way to spend a night on-campus.