Rock of Ages is an 80s rock concert with a plot. What can I say? It is so much fun. If you’re looking to be well and thoroughly entertained this weekend, go see it. Just go see it, and have a good time. You might even want to think about dressing up in your best 80s ensemble, as several audience members last night did.
As a critic, I’m honour-bound to point out that, despite my encouragements above, the rock musical has its flaws. There were a couple of microphone glitches, and one character was either not enunciating clearly, too shrill, or poorly miked (Megan McHugh as a hilariously energetic Regina).
An obvious flaw: the plot. Well, the “plot” only barely earns its name; against the background of attempts to replace the seedy rocker atmosphere on “the strip” with shiny new bos stores, a love story takes place. Boy comes to L.A. to be a rocker, girl comes to L.A. to be an actress, boy meets girl, they fall in love, but they’re young and awkward and they flub it; girl becomes stripper, boy becomes boy-band sell-out, but then they find each other again. Have you heard this a thousand times over? Of course you have; it’s the least original plot ever. Does that make it any less entertaining? It really doesn’t.
The story is helped along by Lonny (Justin Colombo), manager of The Bourbon Room, a dingy club where rock stars get their start. Lonny also works as the show’s narrator; breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience, referring to the play as a play, and causing laughs with his over-over-the-top attitude every time he pops up. Shannon Mullen is Sherrie, the small town girl with dreams of Hollywood, and she can pull off the wide-eyed innocent, the cynical stripper, and the rock star vocals. She is perhaps overshadowed by her male counterpart, Drew – he’d rather be known as Wolfgang von Colt, please and thank you – who is awkward in love but awesome in rock. Played by real-life rocker Dominique Scott, Drew is the guy everybody is cheering for from the get-go.
Jam-packed full of hits like “Anyway You Want It”, “I Hate Myself for Loving you”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to name only a few of an impressive list, Rock of Ages will have you grooving in your seat, clapping along, maybe even screaming in approval. The music is great, and Kelly Devine’s choreography keeps the energy flowing at maximum rate. The show comes with a suggested age limit of 14+ and parents should take this to heart: the show features scantily-clad women making more-than-suggestive moves, mature language, and.. well, it’s about rock and roll in the 80s. It’s not suitable for kids, just trust me on this.
The entire cast is strong, and full of crazy, quirky characters that are all fun to watch: Stephen Michael Kane as the flamboyant young man who isn’t gay, he’s “just German”! Danny McHugh is a member of the chorus but also badass rocker Joey Primo. Universo Pereira is a wildly over-the-top superstar Stacee Jaxx, and Jacob L. Smith plays the owner of the Bourbon Room, former legend and epic-beard-wearer Dennis. With such a strong cast, the stage is never a dull place.
So, get out from the rain and give yourself a treat. Rock of Ages puts all of its energy into entertaining the audience, and it is energy well-spent. The result is a high-energy show that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which makes it hilarious and fun, and will leave you singing your 80s hit of choice on the way out.
Rock of Ages at the Hennpin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. May 17-19. Tickets $34-94 at www.hennepintheatretrust.com or 1-800-982-2787.