July 11, 2017 > Rock of Ages signals a nostalgic blast to the past
Rock of Ages signals a nostalgic blast to the past
By Janet Grant
On a balmy summer Friday night in the Fremont hills, this city definitely seemed to be built on rock and roll with Stage 1 Theatre and Ohlone College SummerfestÕs production of ÒRock of Ages.Ó Presented under the stars in the Smith Center Amphitheatre at Ohlone College, this Tony Award-nominated 80s glam rock musical, features hits of hit bands including Night Ranger, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, REO Speedwagon, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, and Whitesnake.
From the first mind-blasting strains of a rock riff, through the epic final number nod to Journey, ÒRock of Ages,Ó pulsated through the animated audience bopping with cigarette lighters waved aloft. This often zany, totally absurd musical, written by Chris DÕArienzo and artfully directed and choreographed by Kevin Hammond, provided thoroughly enjoyable, rockinÕ entertainment.
ÒRock of AgesÓ follows the misadventures of Sherrie Christian, Òa small-town girl,Ó from Kansas, and Drew Boley, Òa city boyÓ from Ð you guessed it, South Detroit. They meet in the late 1980s in a club on LAÕs Sunset Strip, where theyÕve come to pursue their dreams of stardom and romance. The budding romance is soon waylaid by the egomaniacal rock god and substance-addled Stacee Jaxx, Throw in a German developerÕs plans to renovate the Strip into a strip mall and a group of passionate protesters, and you get a whacky trip back through what the showÕs narrator tells usÐwas Òa sexier timeÓ in America, with a Republican President (Ronald Reagan), mullet hairdos, and sleazy strip joints.
The entire ensemble of ÒRock of Ages,Ó delivers a spirited, raucous, and laugh-out-loud brand of parody by recreating the mood, sound, and big hair of the 1980s with zest. Allie Townsend plays Sherrie with wide-eyed innocence, making her vocals of Òharden my heart,Ó the more emotion tugging. Adam Corugno as Drew, delivers a sentimental earnestness that makes you root for him to win the girl and succeed in his dreams.
The rest of the cast brings unbridled and vigorous performances. Scott Halladay as Lonny was particularly over-the-top and outrageous with his snarky antics and endless T-shirts. His duet with gruff, hippie club owner Dennis Dupree, played by Mark Flores, was absolutely hilarious and strangely touching.
Alycia Adame adds focused passion as community activist Regina, while Stephanie Baumann as Justice, portrays her role as the owner of a gentlemanÕs club with maternal sentimentality.
Crowd favorite Brian Palac, is especially funny as the hard-partying rocker god and sex predator, Stacee Jaxx. He struts onstage bedecked in zebra-striped pants and cowboy fashion with the right amount of glam and greasiness.
Michael Markovich as the dastardly developer Hertz Klinemann, is convincing with his goofball German accent and intimidating ways. The real standout though is the effervescent Juan Castro, as HertzÕs prancing and squealing son, Franz. The outlandishly funny number, ÒHit me with your best shot,Ó between Franz, Hertz, Regina and Ensemble, brought the house down.
Other shout-outs go to the hard-working ensemble and to cast members Jorey Cantu as SherrieÕs mother and Brian Palac again, as SherrieÕs Father; Charles Anthony as Jakeith; Matthew Kelty as the Mayor, and Sarah Lodick as Constance.
Special kudos also go to the amazing and wailing talent of The Band: Tim Roberts, Music Director and Guitar 1; Ed Riegelsberger, Guitar 2; Catherine Snider, Keyboard; Doug Lippi, Drums; and Alex (Hyle) Campbell, Bass.
This madcap comedy of dreams big, dreams broken, and dreams warped, wrapped around some pretty amazing guitar solos and classic rock sounds is guilty pleasure at its finest. From the beginning, the narrator promises to Òmelt your face.Ó Luckily, I was able to leave the amphitheater with my face intact, but definitely with a big smile and humming all the way home.
Rock of Ages
Friday, Jul 7 Ð Saturday, Jul 22
Smith Center Amphitheatre at Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont
Tickets: $30 adults, $25 students/seniors, $20 youth (17 and under)