Last night the audience at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts experienced some time travel as they were transported back to a time when hair was huge, pants were skin tight, shoulder pads were wide and the music was glam! The late 1980’s is the era and LA’s famous Sunset Strip is the setting for Rock Of Ages, a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl story. The tale evolves to the power rock classics of the late 80’s like, Poison, Twisted Sister, Starship, Pat Benatar, Europe and Journey.
As narrated (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) by Lonny (Justin Colombo), the story centers on Drew (Dominique Scott) a bar-back at “The Bourbon Room” who helps fresh-of-the-bus, wannabe actress Sherrie (Shannon Mullen) get a job. Then throw in an aging, druggie bar owner, a soon to be washed up and often shirt-less rock-god, alongside an antagonistic German developer, a Berkley hippie, an assortment of scantily clad waitresses and strippers and the requisite bawdy big voiced diva to complete the paint-by-numbers characters. While the simple book by Chris D’Arienzo, will never be compared to Shakespeare it’s told with camp conviction, the limited dialogue serving as a bridge between the vast array of retro-tastic power ballads. The kids of the 80’s in the audience ate up the healthy doses of sugary sweetness. The second act ups the camp factor even more as the pieces of the story are put together according to Lonny’s “Musicals for Dummies” handbook. With narrator Lonny continually breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, it allowed the crowd to feel part of the show and therefore treated it more like a rock concert versus a theatrical performance, cheering and shouting back to the performers. Foregoing a traditional orchestra in the pit, Rock Of Ages incorporates the band into the show by having the Bourbon Room’s house band, Arsenal, playing the musicals orchestrations.
While the far from traditional musical won’t be for everyone but for those who grew up with the music and era, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Judging by the groups of 80’s kids, especially ladies, around us having a great time, singing along, cheering and dancing in their seats, Rock Of Ages is highly recommended for a fun night out.
Broadway Across Canada’s Rock Of Ages plays at The Centre In Vancouver For Performing Arts until Sunday May 13th, visit Ticketmaster for ticket availability.