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Broadway Sacramento asks: Are you ready to 'Rock'?
Musical 'Rock of Ages' runs today through Sunday at Community Center Theater
'Rock of Ages'
TIMES: 8 p.m. today and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento
TICKETS: $16 to $73
CALL: 916-808-5181 or 916-557-1999
Get ready. "Rock of Ages" has hit town courtesy of Broadway Sacramento, morphing the Community Center into a Sunset Strip bar where the hits of the '80s take center stage.
Based on Chris D'Arienzo's book, the show features 28 classic rock hits including "Don't Stop Believin," "We Built This City," "Wanted Dead or Alive," "Harden My Heart" and "I Want to Know What Love Is."
Director Kristin Hanggi takes the audience into a parody of '80s music and culture that will rock you nostalgic — especially if you're a post-boomer kid. But there are a few new cultural references like Lonny (Justin Colombo) the quick-talkin', quick-movin' narrator who introduces the show and the era, flitting around the stage and even doing the splits in his skin tight pants. Think a cheesy, sleazy knock-off of actor Jack Black, but with a mullet haircut.
The Bourbon Room, is of course, no relation to LA's famous Whisky A Go Go — where all the heavy music hitters performed in the '60s and '70s — but sets the scene as a rock hang-out on its last legs that also now promises "live nudes" in pink neon with a big pin-up of a pouty blonde. Waitresses in garters and stockings set the tone beyond just music.
Enter sweet, Midwest ingénue Sherrie (Shannon Miller) who's come with her little suitcase in hand to get her taste of stardom in LA. She meets mousy Drew (Danny McHugh) whose lot in life is to keep the Bourbon Room toilets clear. But Drew, too, has stars in his eyes as he air guitars and sings into a toilet plunger.
For more comic relief, throw into this mix Regina (Megan McHugh), the hippie chick from Berkeley out of place in this hard rock environ, who "followed the (Grateful) Dead for seven months until I realized I was allergic to patchouli." (And be careful how you pronounce her name.)
As the tale rolls and Drew finally gets a date with Sherrie, the songs come out at the appropriate time, like Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." It's all pretty predictable and amusing.
When city hall comes to call to demolish the bar, owner Dennis (Jacob L. Smith) goes for the benefit concert featuring Stacee Jaxx. Universo Pereira is perfect as the languid, anorexic, vain Jaxx, who sings Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" before he breaks Sherrie's heart in between fighting with his band, Arsenal.
But the best pipes in this almost three-hour show belong to Jen Olivares who plays Constance, matron of the strip club. She stole the show when she consoled Sherrie, crooning Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart."
It's pretty hard to beat the wave of rock music born of the '60s that rolled to the next decade. So by the time the '80s came along, the wake was pretty weak. If '80s rock is your thing, then "Rock of Ages" is your show, a little love story threaded through with tunes by Slade, Poison, Whitesnake, Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon. But don't bring your kids. It's not kid appropriate.