BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES at Midtown Arts Center

BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES at Midtown Arts Center
Artist Clyde M. Canino painted this mural of the show's logo in Midtown's lobby.

I spent a solid six months in the '80s...and I kinda like to brag about it. It's just what that decade does to a person. A time that birthed unapologetic hairstyles and some of the catchiest tunes ever, it was only a matter of time before it collided into the world of musical theatre. Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins is currently producing the regional premiere of Rock of Ages.

The show, which lasted way longer on Broadway than anyone really expected, has found new life regionally, alongside a production in Vegas. Midtown's production, directed by Kurt Terrio, ranks with the best of them, electrifying '80s earworms with a killer cast, stellar band (led by Jason Tyler Vaughn) and, honestly, nothing but a good time. (But that's a bit of an understatement--I had a blast.)

Set on LA's Sunset Strip in 1987, the story follows an aspiring rocker named Drew, working as a busboy at The Bourbon Room, who falls for Sherrie, a new girl in town looking to make it big as an actress. As a German father-son development team plan to demolish the Strip to bring a cleaner vibe to the city, the club calls on rock star Stacee Jaxx and his band Arsenal to play their final show at the venue where they began.

If you come in expecting anything but a campy time machine, you're at the wrong musical. The last thing this show does is take itself seriously, and that's just what makes it work.

BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES at Midtown Arts Center
Photo by Aaron Sheckler

Justin Luciano brings a perfect blend of hardcore innocence to rocker Drew. His vocals are spectacular, as well as Anne Terze-Schwartz, who brings her own brand of small-town chastity to Sherrie...until she and Jaxx have remorseless bathroom sex, then all bets are off. These actors lend a perfect dose of caricature to their roles.

Sean Allen Riley leads as narrator Lonny, who breaks the fourth wall in the best way with a kind of charisma that keeps you enthralled. Joel Adam Chavez complements him well as Bourbon Room owner, Dennis. Jon Tyler Heath is exactly the kind of hot mess Stacee Jaxx deserves to be. At first, I felt more Miley than Motley in his character's appearance...and then I realized that's actually how '80s rockers looked. So, kudos to costume designer Alisa Metcalf.

Other standouts include Morgan Howard's vivacious protester Regina, Michael Lasris and Barret Harper's hilarious duo of Hertz and Franz, and Jalyn Courtney Webb's tender vocals as Justice/Mom. But truly, this whole cast is spectacular.

Scenic design by Aaron Sheckler brings you back to your older brother's basement bedroom, plastered with vintage posters. The lighting design by Chad Bonaker is outstanding, thrusting the audience into a concert venue. If you're any kind of fan of the music of Whitesnake, Styx or Journey, this production is just like living in paradise.

Rock of Ages slays Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins through November 29. Tickets are available at, by calling (970)225-2555 or e-mailing Box office hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm.

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From This Author Chris Arneson

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