The Arts

Head-bang to Theatre Alliance’s Rock of Ages rock musical

DRAMA-MAIN-Seph Schonekas and Gray Smith as Lonny and Dennis in Theatre Alliance's ROCK OF AGES

From jumping on the bed, screaming, “Love is a battlefield” into your hairbrush, to tracing your eyes with dramatic black eyeliner, the 80s rocked; they rocked hard. It was the time for big hair, lots of hairspray and a freeing musical revolution. Marked by the works of Pat Benatar, Journey, Styx, Bon Jovi and Poison, it’s the perfect decade to highlight in a rock musical, and thus was born Rock of Ages.

Taking a stab at the high-energy musical, which performs more like a rock concert itself than a typical musical, is Theatre Alliance, which only seems fitting seeing as its director Jamie Lawson has a soft spot for both music and the 80s.

“It has been a blast; it’s like a time machine to my youth,” Lawson said. “It has really made me feel younger, just hearing all of these songs again.”

The musical focuses on an aspiring rock-star and a small-town girl, who both see their dreams rise and fall, all while weaving in the works of the “glam metal” bands of the decade.

In the show, it’s the tail end of the raging 1980s in Hollywood, when Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor flowed freely. Amidst the madness of Stacee Jaxx jamming on stage and partying harder afterward, aspiring rock star (and resident toilet cleaner) Drew longs to take the stage as the next big thing. He also longs for a certain small-town girl.

But when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn their legendary venue into a strip mall, the rock-and-roll fairytale is threatened—and the gang must save the day through the music of Whitesnake, Twisted Sister and other icons.

“It is a perfect show for anyone who even remotely enjoys 80s tunes,” Lawson said. “I’m someone who keeps his radio dial on the ‘oldies’ station 98.7, so it is bliss to basically create MTV videos onstage.”

“The music itself does most of the work,” Lawson continued, “but we like to help it out with fun costuming and big, teased hair, of course.”

One of the biggest challenges the crew has faced is making sure they don’t damage their voices while singing the high, grungy notes that are typical of rock songs, and of course, learning the dance moves and maintaining the insane level of energy that go with throwing a “rock concert.”

Songs include “We Built This City” by Starship, “Nothing But a Good Time” by Poison, “Keep On Lovin’ You” by REO Speedwagon, “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister, “Shadows of the Night” by Pat Benatar, and “The Final Countdown” by Europe, just to name a few.

Wanna go?

Theatre Alliance performs Rock of Ages Feb. 10-26 at its theatre on 1047 Northwest Blvd. Winston-Salem. Tickets are $18 general admission. For tickets and more information call 336-723-7777 or visit wstheatrealliance.org. Performance is rated R for harsh language and sexual content.

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