“ROCK OF AGES” ROCKED S.J.
By: Iride Aparicio
Drew (DOMINIQUE SCOTT) and dancers Photo by: © Kate Eagan
SAN JOSÉ, CA – The ostenato beat of the band was so loud, that it shook the walls. The rock singing was deafening. The actors’ dancing, dynamic. Their acting was great. It was opening night.
Reflected on the large screen back stage, we saw Los Angeles freeway. Its motion, made us feel transported to L.A. cruising on a car along Sunset Street at night in the year l987. As we look around, we could see the buildings passing rapidly in front of our eyes, and at both sides, a myriad lights shinning among neon signs
The musical ROCK OF AGES, that as part of BROADWAY SAN JOSÉ Series is playing at the S.J. Center for the Performing Arts, was so powerful, that on Opening Night, made the audience rock at the beat of its “Arena Rock Music,” a more commercially-oriented hard rock and heavy metal of the 70’s and 80’s with a slick production and chorus. Some people joined the singers in “Don’t Stop Believing” “Can’t Fight this Feeling,” “Here I go Again,” to name a few of the 28 songs, while others stood in front of their seats, raised their arms over their heads and began swaying their hips in rhythm with the classical rock tunes of Poison, Journey, Night Ranger and others.
Produced by PHOENIX ENTERTAINMENT, and masterfully directed by Tony Award ® nominee, KRISTIN HANGGI, the story moved realistically on the stage. On that night, each one of the characters in the book written by Chris D’ Arienzo came alive for the audience.
On the stage, the set represents the inside of “The Bourbon Room”, a Bar/club with a stage for the band in the back. The bar was surrounded by other buildings. The wall of one of them exhibiting a large picture of young woman wearing pink lingerie, across from her one could see several neon signs of other bars and joints one of them announcing a nude-girls show.
As Drew (DOMINIQUE SCOTT) the busboy dreams of fame as a rock singer and composer while sweeping the bar’s floor, on the stage of the bar, rock singer Lonny (JUSTIN COLOMBO rehearsas a vulgar song using a
stick in front of him, to represent his manhood. After he finishes his song, Dennis Dupree (MATT BAN) the bar owner, and Lonny’s partner, informs him that they are about to lose their joint because of taxes and proposes that they hire Stacee Jaxx, a famous rock singer To attract audience to their bar.
When This conversation is taking place inside the bar, on the street, carrying a blue suitcase in her hand, walks blond small-town next-door type girl Sherrie (SHANON MULLEN) As she walks, somebody comes from nowhere and snatches her purse. Instead of being bitter, she looks elated. She was mugged in Hollywood!
Gentleman Drew (SCOTT) who saw what happened comes to her rescue. He cannot catch the thief but after learning that she is looking for a job, brings her to the night club where she gets a job as a waitress. In “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” a duet, Drew declares his love to Sherrie singing “I’ve been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life. I’ve been waiting for a girl like you . Your loving will survive."
In the meantime, in Los Angeles, the City Mayor’s wife and the members of her church are fighting to keep their City clean from night clubs. During the confrontation, Franz, (STEPHEN MICHAEL KANE) the Mayor’s son meets Regina (MEGAN MCHUGH) and falls in love with her as he sings: “What you want to …hit me? Well you’re the real tough cookie with a long history of breaking little hearts, like the one in me.”
Drew (SCOTT) and Sherrie (SHANON MULLEN)
Things get complicated when Stacee Jaxx (UNIVERSO PEREIRA) sings at the club and Sherrie falls in love with him.
There are more complications when Sherrie is fired from her job. His father is sending FRANZ back to Hamburg. Destitute Sherrie goes to work for Justice (AMMA OSEI) in her strippers joint, and Drew wants nothing more to do with her.
The musical, referred, in jest, by Lony (COLOMBRO) a cast member, as “A story of music and decadence” is really fun to watch, yet more appropriate for mature audiences. For people over forty, it is also a “nostalgia” musical because it allows them the hear the rock songs of the 80's that they are familiar with. In its plot, the musical is also “historical” because those who are old enough will remember that in the year l987 (when the musical tales place) the City of Los Angeles decided to “Clean the city, by closing the bars, nightclubs and nude-dancing parlors in Sunset Strip.
But among the loud rock songs interpreted by Lony (COLOMBO) those sang by UNIVERSE PEREIRA who plays his role of a Stacee with conviction, the naïveté of Sherrie and the songs of Drew marvelously interpreted by SCOTT, with a heart beat of its own, at the end of the musical we discover that ROCK OF AGES, is really a love story.