On Feb. 13, Rock of Ages, a new musical set to the sounds of the hair bands of the 80’s took to the stage at Macon’s Grand Opera House.
Just about everyone has heard or knows the words to “Don’t Stop Believing,” the hit song made famous by the 80’s rock band Journey. “Just a small town girl/Living in a lonely world/She took the midnight train going anywhere/Just a city boy/Born and raised in South Detroit/He took the midnight train going anywhere.”
Rock of Ages is a rock/jukebox musical, with a book by Chris D’Arienzo, built around classic rock hits from the 1980s, especially from the famous glam metal bands of the decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Asia, among other well-known rock bands. It is directed by Kristin Hanggi and choreographed by Kelly Devine with music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Ethan Popp and David Gibbs.
The creative team for Rock of Ages took this song and created a compelling story line, making sure that each rock song used had a meaning and was appropriately placed. Some of the songs were taken in a direction that one would not think they would go.
“Any Way You Want It,” another hit made famous by Journey, took place in a strip club. Each stripper was giving a choreographed lap dance, and singing the words to the song. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister was used during a protest scene, because the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, where most of the musical took place, was being threatened by land developers. The heart wrenching “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner took place in a bathroom stall during a one night stand. The show ends with “Don’t Stop Believing” summing up the fact that the whole storyline that the audience just watched was loosely based on the lyrics of the famous song.
The cast and crew that they brought to the Grand opera House was a group of seasoned professionals. Each cast member brought something different to the performance, and it was interesting to see how the different blends of voices made an interesting sound when being sung to an extremely specific type of music. From soul singers, to hardcore rockers, all the way to voices with a pop quality were able to showcase their talent when asked to sing rock music.
What was seemingly the most powerful voice in the show was in one of the subordinate role. Justice Charlier, the owner of the strip club, where Sherrie, one of the shows central characters, was played by Amma Osei. Her voice was powerful like Aretha Franklin, but had tenderness to it like Mary J. Blige’s. The lead characters of Drew and Sherrie, played by Dominique Scott and Shannon Mullen, each brought a smooth tone to the role, and were not true rockers, but able to hold their own while singing the heavy metal tunes.
Rock of Ages, has recently been in the works for a feature film starring Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones and many others. The film is set to be released in June of 2012.
The next show to hit the Grand Opera House stage is the official Blues Brother’s Review on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets can be purchased at the Grand Opera House website or at Mercer Ticket Sales.