Rock of Ages Movie Review and a Giveaway! [contest over]

This past Wednesday I was able to attend the movie screening for Rock of Ages courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures Canada. I had just seen the touring theatre production (see my review HERE), so I was definitely excited to see what this amazing cast and production team had put together.

This was truly an all-star cast, including Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, Russell Brand as Lonny, Alec Baldwin as Dennis Dupree, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Patricia Whitmore, Mary J. Blige as Justice Charlier and Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian.

Here’s the official movie trailer:

I am also a huge fan of the director Adam Shankman and the choreographer, Mia Michaels. Adam Shankman has such a great eye and makes every scene come alive. He also directed the movie-musical Hairspray! – and did you know he’s a choreographer too? Mia Michaels is always fantastic. Anyone who has watched So You Think You Can Dance! knows just how fabulous she is. She brings movement and body to the stage of this movie.

I admit, the movie did start out a little slow and cheesy (think teenybop) – but it grew on me. I thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s music and the dance numbers. For those not necessarily interested in “musicals”, this is a perfect movie to try out! While the actors do just “stop their talking and begin singing”, the songs are awesome rock songs from the eighties. Everything from hits by Journey, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, and more. Some of the songs from the stage musical were sung but different characters in the movie and also some of the plot was shifted to adapt for “movie magic”. I was actually surprised by some of the “raunchiness of one of the characters – but it suited perfectly for the character’s persona. The highlights were Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige. Overall, I really enjoyed myself – I promptly bought the soundtrack have been playing it on my iPod ever since!

After the movie ended, Warner Brothers Vancouver hosted a special “after party” for those who received movie passes. It was held at Roxy Burger in Vancouver and offered some free appys, drinks and the best part, swag!


I asked Lindsay, one of the Warner Brothers staff if I could offer up some of the swag for this blog and she agreed! So here’s what I have for you to win:

  • Movie passes for you and a friend to the Warner Brothers Vancouver screening of Rock of Ages held on June 13, 2012 at Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver, BC (starts at 7:00pm).
  • 2 t-shirts – a “His – Arsenal Band Shirt” and “Hers – I ❤ Stacey Jaxx Tank Top” (see picture picture below)
  • 1 mini movie poster for Rock of Ages (see picture below)

How to Enter

I’ll make it really easy. Really really easy:

1. Tweet “I want to win #RockOfAges Passes from @natalievana. RT to Enter!”

2. OR Comment on this blog post if you don’t have twitter. (posts don’t show up right away – I moderate)

Good luck!!!!

Note from June 12, 2012 – The winners have been selected by as @brittybritz and GrantQ! Please check your twitter and emails!!!

Fine Print

This contest is open to everyone 13 years of age and older. Contest will run from 12:00am PST June 8, 2012 until 11:59pm PST June 11, 2012. I will draw a winner at 11:00am PST June 12, 2012. Winners must respond with 12 hours or else I’ll redraw. You must be able to travel to Vancouver for the show.Tickets and swag must be picked up at the theatre the evening of the show. Tickets for screenings are always overbooked. Please show up early (I recommend 1.5 hours before the show).


I went to the screening by winning a contest. I was neither expected to nor paid for writing a review. I asked for screening tickets and the t-shirts to give away on my blog specifically because I enjoyed the movie and want others to see it as well.


Rock of Ages Vancouver: Review

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.

Kathryn and Natalie. Photo credit to Natalievana

Jenn and Natalie. Photo credit to Natalievana

The 80’s Group! Photo credit to Natalievana

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.

The opening stage for Rock of Ages. Photo credit to Natalievana

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.

Interview with Matt Nolan from Rock of Ages

As some of you know, I have been the Vancouver Social Media Representative with Broadway Across Canada for the past year and a bit. (You may have noticed me incessantly bombarding Twitter and Facebook with reminders to go see the shows as well as promoting contests here and there.)

Throughout my role, I have enjoyed the little “extras” I get to do, such as giving away tickets, seeing the sets go up and interviewing the cast.

Just in time for the opening show of ROCK OF AGES tonight in Vancouver,  I was fortunate to be able to do an email interview with one of the cast members from ROCK OF AGES, the fabulous Matt Nolan, who plays the rock star Stacee Jaxx. In case you’re wondering who this character is, the character will be played by Tom Cruise in the film version.

Here’s a little bit of Matt Nolan’s biography before we delve into the interview:


Matt is overjoyed to be rocking across the country with Rock Of Ages!! Matt is best known for being a finalist on the hit NBC reality show “Grease: You’re The One That I Want.” National Tours: Grease (Danny Zuko), Hairspray (Fender). Regional: Legally Blonde (UPS Guy/ Chad), Monty Python’s Spamalot, Rent (Roger). Thanks and love to my family, Mark, and my Erin who is dancing around the country with a green Ogre this year!! (bio credit from the Official Rock of Ages on Tour website)

Matt Nolan playing Stacee Jaxx:

Stacee Jaxx Wanted: Dead of Alive (Matt Nolan and Company) Photo credit: Scott Suchman

N- What have you liked best being on this Rock Of Ages tour?

M – Probably getting to be part of a show that is still so new and that I am still a huge fan of.  Even when I am not on stage I’m always in the wings watching, cheering on our cast, and telling people everywhere I go to come see us.  It’s fun to see people in the audience go from having no clue what they are about to see, to standing on their feet going nuts by the end of the show.

N- Did you have a lot of opportunities growing up listening to 80’s music? Any favourite bands or songs?

M – I had some since I was born in the early 80’s, but my favorite was and is Bon Jovi.  So the fact that I get to do Dead or Alive every night is pretty awesome.  Plus every song in our show is a classic so it only gets that much better to perform each of them every night.

N- If you could have been in an 80’s band, which one would you have been in?

M – Motley Crue, pretty safe to say those guys had a kickass time, plus hanging with Tommy Lee would have been a trip.

N- Best/Worst thing about the 80’s for guys?

M – Best thing getting away with wearing guy liner, more makeup than girls, and the long hair.  Worst thing no more concert style music videos.

N- How’s the ‘hair’ for ROA?

M – Insane, my wig is awesome, it has even made me want to try and grow out my own hair to see what it looks like.  Head banging is key and knowing how to control the hair is also essential.  I spent the first few weeks of tour just trying not to choke on it. LOL

N- Tell me about a day in the life of being on tour.

M – When we are someplace for a whole week its very nice and relax since we have the whole day to explore and see the sights of whatever city we are in.  But if we have a long travel week and a different city each night it can get very grueling.  Wake up at 6 AM, ride the bus for seven hours, have one hour to get into our hotel and relax, sound check two hours prior to curtain, do the show, try and find a place thats still open to eat, sleep and repeat!

N- What’s been the most fun about being on tour?

M – Getting to travel and see the country on someone else’s dime.  Going to places you never thought you would go to, and also feeling like its a new opening night in every new theatre we play.

N-  What’s one thing you always need to bring with you when traveling or to the theatre?

M – Must have my computer at all times, and water, and my vocal eze spray, can’t live without them.

N-  Any jokesters in the cast? Best prank?

M – Yes there are many and we like to torture each other both on and off stage.  I am known for putting peoples luggage back on the conveyor belt at the airport.  Its really funny to watch people freak out and no be able to figure out how a bag they thought they just took off ended up back on the belt.

N- Whats the best blooper that’s happened?

M – Again there have been many, for me I fell one night into the pit.  It was not pretty but at least everybody got a kick out of it.

N- What’s the best type of audience to have for ROA??

M – Not really a young kid friendly show first off.  But, people who are not afraid to make noise, have fun, laugh all night, have some cocktails before, during and after the show, and most important people who are looking for nothin’ but a good time!!

N- What’s next for you after this tour?

M – This is my third tour, and third time here in Vancouver.  I love it but I am ready to be in one place for a little while so looking forward to being in New York where I am from and continuing in my career.

N-  Whats your dream role on Broadway?

M – Love the chance to create my own role first and foremost.  But I’d love to be in Jersey Boys, Wicked, Rock of Ages to name a few.

Thank you to Simcha Snell and Barb Fraser from Broadway Across Canada for setting up the interview.

Drew, Played by Dominique Scott. Photo credit: Scott Suchman

ROCK OF AGES  is presented by Broadway Across Canada and is part of a three city tour in Western Canada and just finished their performing dates in Regina April 24-26 and Saskatoon April 27 – 29, 2012.


Rock of Ages is coming to Vancouver

So if you live with your head in a sandbox, you may not have heard that Vancouver is getting the National Tour of the 5-time Tony Award® Nominated smash hit ROCK OF AGES!!

In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small-town girl met a big-city dreamer – and in L.A.’s most legendary rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the ‘80’s. It’s ROCK OF AGES, a hilarious, feel-good love story told through the hit songs of iconic rockers Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, and many more. This 5 time Tony nominated musical, with a star studded motion picture in the works, is rockin’ its way across the USA. Don’t miss this awesomely good time about dreaming big, playing loud and partying on!

ROCK OF AGES is coming to the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts for only eight performances May 8 – 13, 2012. Tickets ON SALE NOW through all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone 1-855-985-5000, or on line at Groups of 10 or more can call 1-800-889-8457.

It is sure to be a fantastic show featuring 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”.

ROCK OF AGES is directed by Tony Award Nominee Kristin Hanggi (Bare, Pussycat Dolls on the Sunset Strip) and choreographed by Kelly Devine (Jersey Boys – Associate Choreographer).  With a book by Chris D’Arienzo (writer and director of the film Barry Munday), original arrangements by David Gibbs (Counting Crows, Film: That Thing You Do) and the Music Supervision, Arrangements & Orchestrations by Ethan Popp (Tarzan; Europe: We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia).

ROCK OF AGES  features set design by Beowulf Boritt (Spelling Bee, LoveMusik), costume design by Tony Nominee Gregory Gale (Cyrano, The Wedding Singer), lighting design by Jason Lyons (The Threepenny Opera), sound design by Craig Cassidy (Phantom, Mamma Mia), and projection design is by Zachary Borovay (A Catered Affair).

Dressing up in your 80’s wear is definitely encouraged!

ROCK OF AGES  is presented by Broadway Across Canada and is part of a three city tour in Western Canada and just finished their performing dates in Regina April 24-26 and Saskatoon April 27 – 29, 2012. It continues on in the fall to Calgary Oct  23-28, 2012, Edmonton Nov 6-11, 2012, and Ottawa March 5-10, 2013.