Rock of Ages
“Rock of Ages” was a hit on Broadway, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and now ready for prime time in the regions, lucky for us.
One thing certain about this show is that the cast, musicians and crew are hard-wired to perform it with an energy that fits like a leather glove. Artistic director James Beaudry and Chicago director Brigitte Ditmars have waved their magic wand.
We could get lost in the electric vibes of Journey, Styx, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and others of the era and why we ever jived to them. There are over 30 power-packed songs to satirize the effect of everything big in the ‘80s. Our dreams included rock bands, starry-eyed love and big hair to make an even bigger statement.
There is even a story weaving in and out of the music. The Bourbon Room on Sunset Strip is where boy meets girl and share future dreams. A triangle predictably develops with the slick entrance of a hip-gyrating rock star. Meantime, there is a wrecking ball, a sleazy strip club and all that makes us poke fun at ourselves. Shakespeare thought of these ploys first, but without the jukebox effect.
The show is all strung together by a raucous narrator, Lonny Barnett, unfettered and rather tongue-in-cheek as he guides us through the hysteria, sometimes part of the cast, sometimes blowing us to the back of the house with songs. Chandler Smith delivers this role as if he had invented it. His return to this TLP season follows other strong roles including in “Big River,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “A Chorus Line.”
There are no small roles in this roaring show. Sometimes it might appear that a melodious, romantic vocal will lull us away into a dream only to develop into another dimension; madness of the moment. Christian Chambers as love-struck Drew Boley does that as the seemingly dreamboat we dreamed of, but then outgrows it. Chambers returns to TLP and can be best remembered as Ziggy in TLP’s hysterical past show, “Young Frankenstein.”
Annalise Griswold as star-struck wannabe actress Sherrie Christian also radiates the little blonde, but turns fierce within few lyrics. Griswold is one of many cream-of-the-crop performers from Baldwin Wallace University of Ohio that TLP seeks for its resident company. She majors in musical theater and was recently in a production of “A Chorus Line.”
Kieran McCabe as rock star Stacee Jaxx performs his first TLP season. He is the embodiment of ego expressed through every smooth swagger, every slick move. His body language genius rocks to full tilt. Very talented actor, especially in his Act I shower scene.
Choreographer Jon Martinez as his first TLP gig doesn’t miss any opportunity for satire in this riotous show, especially the mocking ballet couples, the Slo-mo action and, of course, the swooshing big hair that must have its own moves.
Elsewhere in the cast and especially notable is actress/singer Shayla Brielle G. as Justice Charlier who can be recognized as an extraordinary talent, eye-catching and fresh from the previous poignant ‘Having Our Say’ play. No less notable are Alec Irion as Dennis Dupree, Ken Singleton as Hertz Klinemann, Luke Stewart as Franz Klinemann, and a very recognizable Olivia Kaufmann as Gypsy Rose Lee in opening show.
Perhaps the best ensemble ever at TLP also includes Jenia Head, Elya Bottiger, Caroline Kasay, Tyler Klingbiel, Halli Morgan and Matthew Salvatore.
Cindy Blanc is cast to direct five musicians in an onstage gig this time rather than behind the scenes as usual. She rocks it under the spotlight nonetheless!
You’ve GOT to see this show! “Rock of Ages” continues through Sunday July 10 including four 2 p.m. matinees. Evening shows at 7:30 p.m. (No show Monday July 4th.) The boonies theatre is a hop, skip and a jump to 8215 Black Oak Road, Mount Carroll. Call the box office at (815) 244-2035 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, group rates and more information. Don’t miss the cash bar before the show! Also, Hard Rock and MTV style of music used; discretion is advised if bringing kids to the show.