Oct. 31, 2012 - Issue #889-Human Trafficking Problem
Rock of AgesTue, Nov 6 – Sat, Nov 10 (8 pm)
Sun, Nov 11 (1 pm & 6:30 pm)
Directed by Kristin Hanggi
Jubilee Auditorium, $45 – $95
Set in the heyday of '80s hair metal and Sunset Strip's prominence, Rock of Ages centres around the budding romance of Sherrie and Drew. The former begins the story about as archetypical a small-town gal as one gets—coming into LA with big singer dreams—who finds herself swept up the glitzy sex drugs and rock 'n' roll vibe of the era and place. The latter, Drew, is a bar runner and fledging songwriter struggling to make his mark, and around their story swirl songs you'll unquestionably recognize, from bands like Styx, Whitesnake or REO Speedwagon, that might bring back memories of wild nights and an ill-begotten youth. It's a jukebox musical with its selection spanning the anthems of the '80s.
From the audience of the show's original broadway run, Shannon Mullen knew that the arc of Sherrie was one she wanted to embody.
"When I sat through Rock of Ages, there were two sounds—I grew up mimicking broadway musicals, but I also grew up as a good choir girl singing in church," she recalls, from a tour stop in Thunder Bay. "And Sherry gets to sing like both. It was the first time I saw a musical where she had the sweet, innocent, naive side and then she turned into this rocker belt that just flew out of her mouth, and I was like, 'That's what I want to do.'"
Mullen's no stranger to Broadway shows—she's done tours of Legally Blonde and Hairspray in the past—and now she's been playing Sherrie for more than a year in Rock's touring outings. To her, it's a chord of nostalgia that Rock of Ages strikes with its audiences: almost everyone out there—from the veteran rockers who lived through the era to younger people who discovered bands like Styx at karaoke—has some attachment to this particular era of music, and Mullen thinks that offers a chance for reflection.
"It's one of those nights for people that lets them shut out whatever's going on in the world for them," she says. "If it was a bad day at work, if it was a bad time at home, you get two and half hours to go into the theatre and just be reminded of what it was like to be young or to go to a school dance. People always talk about their first date when they hear these songs. It just lets you forget what's going on right now, and regrounds people to be like, 'I was that age once—and now I'm here, but that doesn't change who I am, I'm just more mature in my skin, and I can walk out the door and handle whatever's going on.' It's a check in for people, I think."
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