By Daniel Skora
The Dio Theatre is currently presenting “Rock of Ages”, a musical that combines classic rock songs from the best of the 1980’s metal bands with a story about a small-town girl looking to make it big in Hollywood.
Sherrie Christian (Kristin Renee Reeves) leaves Kansas for California in the hope of making it as an actress. There she meets Drew Boley (Christopher Kamm), a busboy at a Sunset Strip club called The Bourbon Room who has aspirations of his own. Even as the two begin discovering that they have feelings for each other, the Bourbon Room undergoes threats of demolition by German developers Hertz Klinemann and his son Franz (Dan Morrison and Jared Schneider).
Bourbon Room owner Dennis Dupree (Greg Bailey) and his assistant Lonny Barnett (Steve DeBruyne) believes that the club can be saved by having rock star Stacee Jaxx (Sean Philibin) and his band put on a benefit concert to raise money. It’s with Stacee, who seduces the rather naïve Kansan, that Sherrie comes to discover the seedier side of show business, taking a job as a stripper at a club run by a woman named Justice Charlier (Linzi Joy Thomas). Meanwhile, the powers that be are divided about the whole demolition affair, with the mayor (Brian Buckner) open to taking the bribes he’s being offered, and the city planner, Regina Koontz (Elizabeth Jaffe), joining with the protestors to save the Club.
The music of the metal bands of the 80’s was loud and bombastic. It was often accompanied by excesses in presentation – glam rock, as it came to be called – with big hair, flashy clothes, and makeup the norm. It’s all theatre, after all. Groups like Styx, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Poison, Foreigner and Bon Jovi ruled. Their kind of music – songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Any Way You Want It”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “I Wanna Rock”, and “Here I Go Again” – is what “Rock of Ages” is all about. For those music lovers who tend to steer closer to the middle of the road, the show has songs by Foreigner (“I Want to Know What Love Is”), Journey (“Don’t Stop Believin’”), and REO Speedwagon (Keep On Loving You”). Brian Rose is in charge of the five piece band that’s Rock-solid.
Steve DeBruyne, besides playing Lonny, also directs the Dio’s raucous tribute to an era when rock music and live theatre were one and the same. I must confess that when Steve first appears on stage, a wig of long black hair pouring out from underneath his cap, some facial stuff adding to his disguise, and pumping out enough energy to put a teenager to shame, I was still waiting for Steve to make an appearance.
Baroque is a word that came to define a period of excess ornamentation in the arts during the 17th century. It can also be used to describe “Rock of Ages”. The music is loud, the storyline is over the top, the costumes are flashy and colorful, and the acting is more like overacting. Matt Tomich does triple duty with set, lighting, and sound design. Costume design is by Norma Polk with choreography by Kristin Renee Reeves. The musical’s book is by Chris D’Arienzo.
The Dio offers dinner as part of its entertainment experience and the menu for the current show is as delicious as those previous. Chef Jarod’s Signature Fried Chicken tops the menu along with broiled cod. Included with the entrees are a fresh garden salad, vegetable medley, vegetarian pasta, and homemade garlic bread sticks. The buffet opens at 6:30 before the show. Dessert is served at intermission.
Rock of Ages” runs through May 22nd. For tickets and information call 1.517.672.6009 or go online to www.diotheatre.com. The Dio – Dining and Entertainment is located at 177 E. Main Street in downtown Pinckney.