Wide-eyed with dreams of making it big in Hollywood, Sherrie (Shannon Mullen) leaves her home, somewhere in small-town America, and makes her way to LA. There she meets fellow dreamer and aspiring rock star Drew (Dominique Scott) and the two strike up a budding romance that unwittingly redirects itself to friendship. Hoping to get back on track, Drew manages to conjure up enough courage to approach Sherrie when sexually charged Stacee Jaxx (Matt Nolan) storms the scene, zeroing in on Sherrie to carve the latest notch in his holster. Drew and Sherrie break apart and head off in different directions until one day their paths cross again and they finally confess to each other what they've both always felt.
On the surface it sounds a little sappy, perhaps a little formulaic in structure, but this is one of the funniest, most cleverly orchestrated shows I've seen in a long time. The choreography is great, the actors superb and their timing impecable, the direction is incredibly well thought out, and there's some pretty spectacular singing.
The show is a little x-rated in places but in all fairness they peal as much off the men as they do the women, which is rare and refreshing. The pole dancers in the strip club scenes are particularly good, drawing hilarious gasps of admiration from the men sitting behind us, and the women in the audience are treated to a few moments of their own when Stacee Jaxx strips down to his body hugging briefs (remember the scene stealing UPS guy from Legally Blonde? That's him ladies).
The scenes are funny but the gold is in the details. Some of the smallest moments in the show are where the gems lie and it's those details that had the audience laughing and clapping throughout the performance.
The show really hits its stride about half way through the first act and by act two it inspires an infectious game of “can you name that song in three notes or less.” The crowd eats it up, laughing as they place the songs within the context of the action. At points when the tension is high and the audience deeply engaged, there's an exchange that breaks the fourth wall and brings the viewer into the action. It all works with synchronous precision guided by our insatiable host, Lonny (Justin Colombo).
Enough can't be said about the music. Chris Cicchino, Maddox, Andy Gerold, Alan Childs, and Darren Ledbetter make up the live band that pours out song after song. These guys are all professionals having played with anyone from the Smashing Pumpkins to Marilyn Manson.
Rock of Ages is for anyone of any age who knows even a little about what was happening with rock and roll in the 80s: even if you weren't/aren't especially fond of the music from that era the show itself will make you a believer.
Rock of Ages plays at The Centre for the Performing Arts, May 8 – 13, 2012