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BWW Review: Ten Years Later, ROCK OF AGES Rocks On

BWW Review: Ten Years Later, ROCK OF AGES Rocks On

Decadence and dreams, Hollywood nights and hair bands, and Journey and jazz hands, it could be said that ROCK OF AGES is a party almost 40 years in the making.

The Tenth Anniversary Tour of ROCK OF AGES opened at the Durham Performing Arts Center last night, marking the tour's 100th performance. The show tells the story of a wannabe rocker/barback named Drew and aspiring actress from the Midwest named Sherrie who meet, fall in love, break up, and live happily ever after in la-la land. While the whole storyline is formulaic and predictable, what makes this show work is the mashup of 80s music and some powerhouse vocals.

Anthony Nuccio and Katie LaMark play the two young lovers at the center of the story. Nuccio got off to a little bit of a rocky start vocally Friday night but made up for it by the time he hit the big notes of Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock and Steve Perry's Oh Sherry in the second act. Durham theatergoers may remember LaMark from her strong performance as Maureen in the 20th Anniversary Tour of RENT. Once again, she flexes her vocal chops delivering such classic rock songs More Than Words and Harden My Heart with the controlled clarity of a seasoned pro.

But it is the duets between Nuccio and LaMark that truly electrify the stage and the audience, along with the mashup of classic rock songs like Harden My Heart (Quarterflash) with Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar), We Built This City (Starship) with Too Much Time on my Hands (Styx), and Cum On Feel the Noize (Quiet Riot) with We're Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister).

There's also some laugh-out-loud funny moments, most of which are delivered by the show's narrator John-Michael Breen (Lonny), a fairy-godmother of sorts wielding a fog machine in lieu of a magic wand. Chris Renalds as Franz also delivers a hilarious, unforgettable rousing rendition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

Much better than the movie version of ROCK OF AGES, this is one show that needs to be experienced live rather than on a screen.

Laced with some clever staging, adult humor, and references to the Reagan years, Chaka Khan, and even Andrew Lloyd Sondheim and Book Writer Chris D'Arienzo (no one is spared), ROCK OF AGES is a rocking good time that will take you on a headbanging trip.

ROCK OF AGES runs through tonight, February 23rd, at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/rock-of-ages.


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