BWW Review: ROCK OF AGES at Cygnet Theatre
ROCK OF AGES, now playing at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town through August 25th, is a rock 'n' roll fairytale that wants everyone to have "nothin' but a good time."
Set in the magical land of the 1980's Sunset Strip in LA, there is a bar and club called the Bourbon Room which also near the strip club called the Venus Club. (It's a very sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll kind of lifestyle).
The mischievous narrator is Lonny (Victor E. Chan) who immediately breaks the fourth wall to talk to the audience to introduce the main characters in this tale. Drew (Rory Gilbert) is an aspiring rock singer who is trying to make it under the name of Wolfgang Von Cult but is working as a bar back until he finds success. He immediately falls for sweet and innocent Sherrie (Megan Carmitchel) who has come out to become an actress, but settles for working in the bar between auditions.
As always in these stories, they have a misunderstanding which is taken advantage of by one of the villains of the piece, an aging and debauched rock star named Stacee Jax (Bryan Banville) who is able to cause some chaos. The other villains are a pair of German developers, Hertz (John Rosen) and his son Franz (Zackary Scot Wolfe) who have the plans and the money to convince the mayor to turn the area into a cleaner living community, much to the anger of city planner Regina (Emma Nosal). Their plans include shutting down the Bourbon Room much to the dismay of the bars owner Dennis (Berto Fernandez) and his trusty sidekick Lonny.
Drew finds his musical dreams may require some compromise on his part (a boy band? That's not very rock-n-roll) and Sherrie finds herself working at the Venus Club as a dancer Could her fairy godmother giving practical advice really be Justic (Anise Ritchie) the strip clubs manager? Can Drew finally figure out what will make him truly happy and go for it?
With songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Poison, Steve Perry, and more this is a show that not only pays homage to the glam metal bands of the 80's but revels in it. The band led by Music Director Patrick Marion brings the rocking energy and music that is the foundation of this show.
The set by Sean Fanning captures the tarnished glamour of the strip, including bright neon signs, worn bar furnishings, and a trashed bathroom. Projections by Blake Mccarty and lighting by Amanda Zieve complete the atmosphere. Costumes by Jennifer Brawn Gittings and wigs by Peter Herman men everyone is in their finest 80's rock attire of miniskirts, bras, eyeliner and big hair.
Gilbert and Carmitchel bring the innocent and dreamy naivety to their roles as Drew and Sherrie, and share some powerful duets. Chan and Fernandez make a delightfully funny duo as the bar owner and his employee, while Chan does double duty as the spirited narrator as well.
Banville is hilarious as the sleazy and self-indulgent rock star Stacee Jax. Ritchie brings soulful vocals to the strip club owner with a heart of gold. Rosen and Wolfe are wining as the conservative German developer and more flamboyant son who are at odds with Nosal's passionate protestor Regina.
Directed by Sean Murray the show succeeds with a cast that keeps everything lively, and embraces the ridiculous flamboyance of the plot and the music.
ROCK OF AGES is a fun rock fairytale about the power of dreams, love, and having a good time as told through the power ballads and rock songs of the 1980's.
If you want to take younger audience members there is adult language, situations, sex, and drugs along with this rock 'n' roll.
For show time and ticket information go to www.cygnettheatre.org
Photo credit: Ken Jacques