True to form, "Rock of Ages" provides "nothing but a good time." With just the right combination of musical theatre storytelling and rock n' roll partying, "Rock of Ages" features a perfectly balanced sound system, loud enough to blow your mind, but not loud enough to blow your eardrums. The innovative production also includes awesome audience interaction, with shout outs to the local audience and fun recognition of traditional Broadway musical theatregoers.
Don't let the failure of the recent film version scare you away. The touring production, concurrent with the still-running-strong Broadway showstopper, contains clever script writing and characters unique to the live experience. Donny, our funky narrator, comes out of the fourth wall, poking his head in when needed... or not needed... to liven up the action. A radiant, pop-out ensemble carries the audience away with giant vocals and speedy choreography. And from beginning to end, an on-stage band provides one of many highlights, as much in character as the up-front actors.
Justin Colombo carries much of the show as the charismatic Lonny, full of one-liner punches and various crass jokes. Colombo's constant energy, playful attitude and top-quality vocals earn him the most applause come bows. His narrative follows the love story of dreamer Drew, who wants to be a famous rock n' roll singer, and Sherrie, an aspiring Hollywood actress. Danny Mchugh takes full advantage of Drew's showy vocal parts, while Shannon Mullen makes a cute, but vocally weak Sherrie.
Jacob L. Smith plays the perfect hippie bar owner, Dennis, who has his own special turn with Colombo in a hilarious second-act rendition of "I Can't Fight This Feeling Any More." Universo Pereira dons the best and most sparkled costumes of the show as the drug and sex-crazed rock star Stacee Jaxx. Despite the character's sleazy nature, Pereira manages to make him enjoyable to watch, especially in a "loco" finale. Megan McHugh possesses a strong presence as activist Regina, the leader in song favorites "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "We Built This City on Rock N' Roll." Amma Osei outshines the majority of the difficult-to-outshine cast with her soulful turn as Mama, the head of a downtown Los Angeles strip club. Philip Peterosn and Stephen Michael Kane also give strong performances as German father-son duo, Hertz and Franz, Kane getting perhaps some of the most memorable moments of the musical with his adorable and unexpected character whims.
Although some portions of the racy musical are enough to make the conservative viewer blush - this is 80's rock n' roll we're talking about - warm cheeks also turn red from nonstop laughter at this surprisingly entertaining show. Are you ready to rock? Well, whether you're ready or not, "Rock of Ages" is ready for you.
ROCK OF AGES
Through January 27
California Musical Theatre