A little bit of review from Rock of Ages in Vancouver for everyone today.
I went to the opening night of Rock of Ages on May 8, 2012. Rock of Ages began their final Canadian tour production in Vancouver, BC. Broadway Across Canada gave me 10 tickets to get a large group together for this fantastic musical. We decided to get fully decked out in our 80s wear.
We spent the few hours before the show at my place getting ready. We teased our hair, found leg warmers (surprisingly!), and found some hysterical eye-makeup to show that we could dress for the best rockin’ 80s party there ever was! We even had one friend cut up her high school prom dress to wear.
Unfortunately, we were desperately running late for the performance. It’s amazing how long it takes to tease hair! We got a few snaps, but unfortunately one girl was camera shy and three others had come from work so they couldn’t join in the 80’s fun.
Onto the show! I was definitely excited to see Rock of Ages. I had bought the soundtrack from iTunes a few weeks ago and l have had it on repeat at my home and office. The music from the show incorporates classic 80s music combined with some of the storyline from the show. From listening to the music, I knew it was going to be easy for me to love the show.
Rock of Ages is described as a rock/jukebox musical because it combines storyline around classic rock hits you may have heard on the radio growing up. It features 28 classic rock tunes including “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “We Built This City”, “The Final Countdown”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Here I Go Again”, “Harden My Heart”, “Can’t Fight this Feeling”, “Renegade” and “I Want To Know What Love Is”.
The story is set in 1987 when a small-town girl (Sherrie, played by Shannon Mullen) who moves to California to become an actress. She meets a city boy rocker (Drew, played by Dominique Scott) – (cue Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey) on the Sunset Strip in California. Their love story is interrupted by some drama happening to the Strip. The Strip is changing from the “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” lifestyle of the Sunset Strip into *gasp* big box stores and “clean living”. The main bar in peril is the classic Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis Dupree (played by Matt Ban). The Bourbon Room is where the world famous band Arsenal, fronted by Stacee Jaxx (played by Matt Nolan) got their start and are now breaking up. There’s lots of memories in this bar and the locals aren’t going to take it!
The musical is narrated by Lonny Bennett (Justin Colombo) who frequently breaks the fourth wall rule of theatre and talks to the audience. Out of all the characters, Lonny brought the comedic timing and made the audience feel the excitement (and give us a more detailed storyline, which was one item that Rock of Ages has a little bit of trouble solidifying).
I found the singing to be amazing, particularly with Shannon Mullen and Matt Nolan. They had very strong voices and fantastic vocal ranges which were heard well above the rock band (which played on stage the entire time). Dominique Scott was amazing as rocker Drew, but I often lost his voice in the music. This is often a problem I have with seeing live musicals – the microphones either aren’t turned up enough to overpower the band or orchestra, or the actors speak to fast and don’t enunciate their words clearly. The acting and dancing of all the cast members were superb for a musical in which the main focus is on the 80s rock music.
The audience definitely made the musical shine. I have heard various things about the musical on Broadway, and the audience is encouraged to sing along and rock out. I did see a few children in the audience, and unfortunately they did end up leaving due to the sexual connotations. This musical is definitely not for children.
I have to admit, my favourite character was Stacee Jaxx (Matt Nolan). I had a little crush on Matt when I watched him on “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” reality show, where the cast were vying for the roles of Sandy and Danny on the Broadway production of Grease! I was excited to see Matt perform, but honestly, the character Stacee Jaxx took control – this character is a slimy rock star who is a “love ’em and leave ’em” type of guy. My eye was drawn to Jaxx whenever he was on stage (The llama!). And don’t get me started in his abs.
Overall, Rock of Ages was one of the best touring performances I have seen in recent years. I encourage anyone who has a fondness for the music in the 80s or an idea of what life was like then to go see this musical. And don’t just sit there! Sing out and have some fun!
Rock of Ages is on a short engagement from May 8th through 13th in Vancouver at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts. Performances run Tuesday – Saturday evenings at 8pm, Sunday evening at 7:30pm with Saturday and Sunday 2pm matinees. Tickets are still available from Ticketmaster.
Thanks again to Broadway Across Canada for the tickets. We had a ton of fun!
Disclaimer: Please note that this review was of my own initiation. I was not expected to nor paid for writing commentary of the event. Any thoughts are my own and not of any business affiliated.