By Lauren Means | Photos Courtesy Jeremy Daniel
The Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary tour has landed in Nashville and the cast is ready to take us back to a sexier time, the Regan Era! That’s right, through music, dance, and swift set changes, we are transported back to the age of sex, drugs and rock & roll – Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in 1987. Since it’s debut in 2009, Rock of Ages has been performed over 2,300 times, racked up five Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical, had national and international tours and, in 2013, was developed into a major motion picture.
Equal parts camp, rock concert, comedy and love story, Rock of Ages is the story of girl meets boy and the ups and downs of “making it” in Hollywood. Katie LaMark (Sherrie) and Anthony Nuccio (Drew) hit the mark in their portrayal of young, aspiring performers who meet courtesy of the world famous Dupree’s Bourbon Room. There is also a litany of side stories including German investors trying to turn the strip into a strip mall, protestors trying to stop the changing landscape, a bar owner trying to save the business that made him who he is today, and a strung-out lead singer leaving his band for a solo career.
There were a few stand out performances to note in this production. Lonny, brought to life by John-Michael Breen, is the glue that holds the story together. With his perfectly timed quips, keen sense of irony and love of the Fogmaster 5000, Breen was the highlight of the show. Sam Harvey gave an impeccable performance as Stacee Jaxx. Imagine what you think of when someone says “‘80s hairband lead singer, Rock God” and Harvey gives it to you. Franz, the character delivered by Chris Renalds in his National tour debut, is a German urban developer who just wants to please his father but struggles with fulfilling his true dream, being a chocolatier. If nothing more, Franz teaches us not to judge a book by its cover with his flamboyant twists and turns in character development.
Anyone here is music city should appreciate the story as we all know someone who is trying to make it big but if you can’t get past the campiness, the soundtrack might be enough to keep you engaged. Between Poison, Whitesnake and Journey, there is a song to which almost everyone will want to sing along. The live band rocks your face off and provides a very fitting complement to the cast.
The story is wrapped up in a nice package, in the end, leaving us with a quick “where are they now” before curtain call. And while character self-awareness can sometimes be off-putting, it actually was a welcome addition to Rock of Ages.
One note of caution, unless you are up to explaining tea-bagging, fellatio, and beaver hunting you might want to leave the kids home and make this an adults night out.
Who: Rock of Ages
What: Broadway at TPAC
Where: Andrew Jackson Hall
When: April 12-13, 2019
Why: “Featuring the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister, and Whitesnake, among many others, this Tenth Anniversary production features a dynamic new cast revisiting the larger-than-life characters and exhilarating story that turned Rock of Ages into a global phenomenon.”