Wanna Rock?

Wanna Rock?

City boy falls for small-town girl: It’s a plot so familiar it verges on cliché. But set it to a soundtrack of ’80s hairband hits and if the story doesn’t feel refreshed, it’s sure a hell of a lot of fun.

That’s the case with Rock of Ages, a touring musical that opened last night and runs through December 9 at Overture Center.

The storyline is simple: Drew and Sherrie have each come to Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip to live out their rockstar and acting dreams. But a German developer wants to tear down the street’s seedy nightclubs, theaters and strip clubs—and then there’s a sleazy rock legend who threatens Drew and Sherrie’s budding romance.

It’s all essentially a set-up for a playlist of ’80s rock anthems—but who’s got a problem with that? If you like Whitesnake, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Warrant, Twisted Sister, Poison and Joan Jett, you want to hear the music, and the show delivers.

Many of the songs are cleverly chosen. The audience understands Drew a bit more when the band strikes up Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” (he’s “a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit …”).

UW–Stevens Point grad Danny McHugh shines as the adorably earnest Drew, while Shannon Mullen brings a freshness to Sherrie. Other standouts include Amma Osei, who plays a strip club owner with a powerfully beautiful voice, and Justin Colombo as Lonny, a delightful dirtbag who serves as narrator. A highlight of the show is when Lonny and club owner Dennis share their affection for one another in a scene set to REO Speedwagon.

If you wanna rock, Rock of Ages doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fun, slightly raunchy romp that—bonus!—will have you humming your favorite ’80s ballads for the rest of the week.

Rock of Ages runs through December 9 at Overture Center. For more information, visit overturecenter.com.

Photo courtesy of Overture Center.

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