The Rock Hits the Ceiling at Center REP, a Fun 80's Glam Romp

 

By Vince Mediaa

Posted: 06/11/2016

Rock of Ages is "Don't Stop Believin' High Energy Head Banging Jukeobx at Full Volume Not to Be Missed

The hair whips and 80ís glam rock is at full throttle this summer at CenterReps thrilling production of ROCK OF AGES. A power rock jukebox musical now on stage at the Margaret Lesher Stage in Walnut Creek Ca. through June 25th. Built around classic rock hits from the 1980s, especially the famous glam metal bands of the decade, with a book by Chris D'Arienzo and arrangements by Ethan Popp. This local SF East Bay regional premiere of the Tony nominated musical has a terrific and exceptionally power rocking cast and a visually appealing creative team that makes this romp better than the national tour version I attended.

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Curtain Calls: Center REP's Rock of Ages a Powerhouse!

 

By Sally Hogarty, Columnist

Posted: 05/31/2016

I had never heard the term "rock/jukebox musical" until I attended Center Repertory's powerhouse of energy "Rock of Ages" last week. It's certainly an apt description of Chris D'Arienzo's musical featuring the classic rock songs from the 1980s currently playing at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts through June 25.

Superbly directed by Dyan McBride, I couldn't help but feel electrified and happily exhausted as I left the theater after two hours of dynamite singing and dancing. Everything about this musical is big -- big hair, big visuals and, especially, big voices. Kudos to this incredibly talented cast that belts out the lyrics to rock song after rock song with ease. I hope they are on total vocal rest between shows so that the next audience can experience the fantastic performance enjoyed by open night attendees.

But D'Arienzo didn't just string together a series of songs, he added a storyline and more than a little bit of satire and humor. At times, I thought I was watching a comic book come to life, with the over-the-top colorful characters and actions, especially given Rebecca Ann Valentino's stunningly outrageous costumes. Set designer John Iacovelli brings it all to life with his vibrant set, complete with glitter curtain, Sunset Strip signage and an upper level for the rock band.

The story follows Sherrie (Elise Youssef), an actress wannabe from Kansas who comes to Hollywood's Sunset Strip seeking fortune and fame. She lands at Dennis Dupree's (Will Springhorn, Jr) legendary rock club and falls for fellow employee and rock star hopeful Drew (Nikita Burshteyn). Dark clouds arrive when German developers (Tiiu Eva Rebane and Tyce Green) convince the mayor (Mark Duncanson) to tear down a portion of Sunset Strip and build a retail monolith. Life gets even more complicated when bad boy superstar Stacee Jaxx (Lucas Coleman) comes to town.

The story is hilariously narrated by the rock club's sound engineer Lonny Barnett (Jacob Judd).

I don't think I have enough adjectives in my vocabulary to adequately describe how wonderful all the performers are, from the lead characters to the ridiculously flexible dancers, whose sexy moves choreographed by Staci Arriaga reminded me of "Cabaret."

Keeping the place rocking was the five-piece band led by music director/keyboardist Kevin Roland, with Ken Bergmann (drums), Travis Kindred (bass) and Sam Schwartz and Adam Schuman on guitars.

A note of caution -- this is a rock musical. It's loud. It's raunchy. It's not for everyone. But if you love the music of Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister and the like, you'll love this show.