BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES the Theme for Musical Monday in Kansas City
Rock of Ages the theme for Musical Monday, presented by Musical Theater Heritage, played on the stage at the Off Center Theatre on April 14. Kristin Hanggi the Tony Award nominated Broadway Director is in Kansas City for the production. Hangii came on stage to talk about the songs and the production of the Broadway musical. She holds a Masterclass for Musical Theater Heritage on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Musical Monday, usually a one-night show, runs for a second night on Tuesday April 15.
Rock of Ages is described as a rock/jukebox musical built around the classic rock hits from the 1980s. The musical with over 2,000 performances in New York City features musical numbers from Journey, Styx, Pat Benatar, Steve Perry, and Bon Jovi among others. Rock of Ages marked the Broadway debut of Hanggi, who had previously directed Bare: A Pop Opera, which won the Ovation Award and the LA Weekly Award for Best Musical. In spite of the musical's title, the Def Leppard song of the same name is not performed in the show.
Tim Scott, one of the creators of Musical Monday, directed and emceed the Monday night performance with humorous quips that have become an integral part of the Monday shows. Scott, a former In-Game Host for the Kansas City Royals, has a wonderful voice that equals his comedic wit. "Sue Me," sung by Leah Swank Miller and Scott exhibits both his humorous side and great vocals. Miller who has a beautiful voice was the perfect antagonist for Scott and the song.
Shelby Floyd performs several songs in solos, duets, and with the group. Performing duets with Pancho Villegas and Patrick Lewallen, her voice blending perfectly with the two performers. Floyd's facial expressions and body language are strong and pull the audience into each performance. Her version of "Summer in Ohio" was both beautiful and humorous.
Pancho Villegas has an astonishing voice that is strong and oh so wonderful to listen to. During the production, he appears in several songs with the cast and duets with Floyd and Katie Gilchrist. In the second act, he performs a rousing rendition of "Raise a Little Hell." Villegas and Floyd currently are starring in Schoolhouse Rock Live! at The Coterie Theatre in Crown Center.
One of my favorite performances of the evening was "Sweet Transvestite" from the Rocky Horror Show, performed by Vincent Monachino. As a tremendous Rocky fan I found his performance set the mood for the show and the evening for me. Monachino has one of the finest voices in Kansas City and appears at many of the local theaters including the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park.
Megan Herrera performed "Funny How Love Gets in the Way" and "Vanilla Ice Cream." Both songs were fantastic showing the versatility of her talent. She has performed with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Musical Theater Heritage, Egads! Theatre Company and the Living Room Theatre.
In each production of Musical Monday, two lottery winners are given the opportunity to perform one number in front of the live audience. In Act I Christopher Calson performed and in Act II John Hileman performed. Hileman usually is delegated to running the soundboard for the shows and decided to step in front of the microphone for this production and the audience was glad he did. His song was very good and he used superb body language to help draw the audience into the number.
Other performers appearing on Monday were Zach Parker, Samantha Barboza, and co-founder of Musical Monday Chad Gerit. Each gave engaging performances, which shows why the Monday production generally sells out. Accompanying the performers were the amazing Jeremy Watson on piano, Brian Wilson on bass, Tod Barnard on drums, Ryan Wurtz on rhythm guitar, and Curits Oberle on lead guitar.