Rock of Ages (musical)
Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s, especially from the famous glam metal bands of that decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe, among other well-known rock bands. It was written by Chris D'Arienzo, directed by Kristin Hanggi and choreographed by Kelly Devine with music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp.
|Rock of Ages|
Cover Art for the cast recording
During the performance, the performers frequently break the "fourth wall", directly addressing the audience and seemingly forgetting (or perhaps reminding the audience) that they are actors in a musical. Despite the musical's title, the Def Leppard song of the same name is not included in the musical.
The original Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances, closing on January 18, 2015 tied as the 29th-longest running show in Broadway history. Since debuting on the Great White Way in 2009, it has spawned replica productions worldwide in Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom among others, as well as several touring productions.
Lonny Barnett, who serves as the show's narrator, sets up the story: In 1987, an aspiring rocker named Drew Boley works as a busboy in the Hollywood bar/club called the Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis Dupree and assisted by Lonny ("Just Like Paradise/Nothin' But a Good Time"). He falls instantly for a girl, Sherrie Christian, who just arrived from Paola, Kansas, hoping to make it big in acting ("Sister Christian"). Drew convinces Dennis to hire Sherrie as a waitress.
A pair of German developers, Hertz Klinemann and his son Franz, persuade the city's mayor to abandon the "sex, drugs and rock-n-roll" lifestyle of the Sunset Strip and introduce "clean living" into the area, much to the anger of the City Planner, Regina ("We Built This City"). When Dennis learns that part of the plan involves demolishing The Bourbon Room, he believes the club can generate more money by having rock star Stacee Jaxx and his band Arsenal, who recently announced their break-up, perform their last show at the Bourbon ("Too Much Time on My Hands"). He calls Stacee and convinces him to play the band's last show in the club where he had begun. As Drew struggles to write new lyrics, Sherrie urges him to go after his dreams ("I Wanna Rock"). Regina begins protesting Hertz and Franz's redevelopment plans ("We're Not Gonna Take It").
Later, after arguing with her parents during a phone call, Sherrie begins to discover feelings for Drew, who supports her dream. Also, Drew, auditioning to open for Arsenal, finds the lyrics he has been searching for and realizes that they have come from his feelings for Sherrie ("More Than Words/Heaven/To Be with You"). After obtaining the opening slot for Arsenal, Drew invites Sherrie to have a picnic in the hills overlooking Los Angeles ("Waiting For a Girl Like You"). There, he mistakenly suggests that the two are merely friends to calm their nerves, disappointing both of them and ruining the date.
Stacee Jaxx arrives at the Bourbon and gives an interview about his life ("Wanted Dead or Alive"). Sherrie is immediately smitten with him, and believing she means nothing to Drew, has sex with Stacee in the men's room ("I Want to Know What Love Is"). While Stacee and Sherrie are copulating, Drew opens for Stacee and Arsenal, not knowing a record producer is in the audience. After their tryst, Stacee tells Dennis to dismiss Sherrie before the concert begins. His guitarist realizes what Stacee did and knocks him out. The record producer in the club was impressed with Drew's performance and suggests he take over for Stacee. He then offers Drew a contract, which he accepts. Sherrie seeks comfort from Drew after she is fired, but having seen her go into the men's room with Stacee, he dismisses her ("Cum on Feel the Noize"). In the midst of these events, Regina continues her protest ("We're Not Gonna Take It [Reprise]").
An upset and unemployed Sherrie meets Justice Charlier, the owner of the nearby Venus Club, which Justice prefers to call a "gentleman's club." She relates to Sherrie's story, saying that many of the small-town girls hoping to hit it big in LA end up making a living as strippers. Grudgingly, Sherrie accepts Justice's offer to work in her club ("Harden My Heart/Shadows of the Night"). As the act closes, everyone is alone – Drew, as an upcoming rock star; Sherrie, fending for herself as an exotic dancer; Regina protesting the redevelopment; and Dennis, trying to save his club ("Here I Go Again").
Hertz and Franz begin demolition on the Sunset Strip, alienating them from each other as Franz falls for Regina and sees "the error of their ways." Dennis and Lonny join the fight with little success ("The Final Countdown"). Drew's rocker image is upsetting the record producer, and Sherrie is learning how things work at the Venus Club ("Any Way You Want It/I Wanna Rock [Reprise]"). When they meet on the street, Sherrie is embarrassed about her job and Drew is upset that his record company is attempting to reshape him into part of a hip-hop boy band, "The Zee Guys" as Joshua Zee. They argue and Sherrie admits that she was crazy about Drew, but failed to make a move because he said they were friends. They part ways more troubled by these new revelations ("High Enough").
A drunken Stacee arrives at the Venus Club and is pleased to see Sherrie. After being forced to give him a lapdance, she beats him up while dancing ("I Hate Myself for Loving You/Heat of the Moment"). Drew arrives to admit his feelings to her, but becomes angry when he sees the two in a suggestive position and storms off. Justice later tells Drew that as soon as he left, Sherrie had punched Stacee in the jaw.
Regina continues her protest against the destruction of the Strip, but yields no success. She convinces Franz to stand up to his father if he does not believe in his father's vision. Franz admits that he has his own dream, namely to open a confectioner's store in Germany. He rebels against his father and admits his love for Regina ("Hit Me with Your Best Shot"). Meanwhile, Dennis and Lonny, upset at the loss of The Bourbon Room, admit that they have feelings for each other ("Can't Fight This Feeling").
Sherrie decides to leave the Venus Club after the scene with Drew, and Justice tells her that she had a similar experience with her first love. Everyone is in turmoil as they attempt to move on with their lives ("Every Rose Has Its Thorn"). Franz leaves for Germany and Hertz begins to regret the hurtful way he treated his son ("Keep on Loving You"). Regina arrives and explains to Hertz that Franz does not hate him; he simply wants his father to support his dream. Hertz decides to return the deed to the Bourbon Room to Dennis and invest in Franz's confectionery store.
Drew, now a pizza delivery boy, realizes none of his dreams have come true—he still is not a rock star, and Sherrie is leaving on a midnight train. Lonny arrives and breaks the fourth wall by explaining to Drew that his life is so miserable because they are all characters in a musical and that it was their book writer who made it so. He also reveals to Drew that he serves as the show's "dramatic conjurer" and that if Drew wants a happy ending, it is up to him to get the girl. After hearing this, Drew realizes that he does not need fame to make him happy, only Sherrie ("Oh Sherrie"). He reaches her at the train station in time, and they realize that their love has survived all their trials and reconcile ("The Search Is Over").
In the epilogue, The Bourbon Room is spared from demolition and Stacee Jaxx, now a washed-up has-been who has been charged with statutory rape, flees to Uruguay ("Renegade"). Franz opens his confectionery store in Germany and has a long distance relationship with Regina, who becomes the new mayor of West Hollywood. Dennis passes away, leaving the Bourbon Room to Lonny, and Sherrie and Drew move to Glendale and start a family. Lonny notes that on The Strip, sometimes the dreams with which you enter are not always the dreams with which you leave, but they still rock ("Don't Stop Believin'").
|Stacee Jaxx||Chris Hardwick|
|Sherrie Christian||Laura Bell Bundy|
|Drew Boley||James Snyder|
|Lonny Barnett||Dan Finnerty|
|Dennis Dupree||Kyle Gass|
|Franz Klinemann||Tom Lenk|
|Regina McKaig||Patty Wortham|
|Justice Charlier||Michele Mais|
|Hertz Klinemann||David Holladay|
- Los Angeles (2005, 2006)
The musical premiered on July 27, 2005 in Los Angeles at King King, a club on Hollywood Boulevard where it ran for a limited engagement. It later moved to the Vanguard Hollywood in January 2006 for a second short run.
Following the successful run at the Vanguard, the show then moved to Ren-Mar Studios where it played to sold-out crowds. In May 2006 there was a short run at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.
- Off-Broadway (2008–2009)
The musical opened Off-Broadway at New World Stages on October 16, 2008 and ran through January 4, 2009. Kelly Devine was the new choreographer, and Ethan Popp was brought in to music supervise, as well as create new arrangements and orchestrations for the production.
The musical then transferred to Broadway. Previews began March 17, 2009 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, officially opening on April 7, 2009. The Broadway production temporarily closed on January 9, 2011 and moved to the Helen Hayes Theatre, where it resumed performances March 24, 2011.
The show's band had significant stage time compared to other musicals' bands and orchestra members. The band dressed in typical metalhead costumes, fitting with their role as Stacee's back up band, and always on-stage. The drummer played inside a cage with a sign on it that read "Please don't feed the drummer". One of the original guitarists in the stage band, Joel Hoekstra, is a former member of Night Ranger (whose hit "Sister Christian" was performed in the show) and current member of Whitesnake (whose song "Here I Go Again" was also performed in the show). Another guitarist Tommy Kessler is also a member of the band Blondie.
The show closed on January 18, 2015 after 22 previews and 2,328 regular performances, placing Rock of Ages in a tie with Man of La Mancha as Broadway's 29th-longest running show of all-time.
- London's West End (2011–2013)
The UK premiere of the show began previews on August 31, 2011 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End. Opening night took place on September 27, 2011. Amy Pemberton was originally cast as Sherrie but due to illness was forced to withdraw from the show. She performed for the first week of previews and at West End Live 2011. She remained on extended leave while her understudy Natalie Andreou played the role. Pemberton later decided that she would not be returning to the role and Andreou was given it permanently. Andreou performed on opening night.
The show transferred to the Garrick Theatre in January 2013, where it closed on November 2, 2013 concluding a two-year West End run.
- First National UK Tour (2014)
Following its West End closure, the musical began a national tour of the U.K. and Ireland. Performances began at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on May 3, 2014. It is scheduled to visit 27 venues, before concluding at the New Theatre, Wimbledon, London on November 22, 2014.
- Second National UK Tour (2018-2019)
A second national tour began on 25th September 2018 in Manchester and was supplied to finish on 27th July 2019, with the final shows in Sunderland. Instead, the tour extended by one week and went to Leeds and the tour concluded there on 3rd August 2019.
Other notable productions
Previews for the Canadian production began April 20, 2010 at the Royal Alexandra Theater in Toronto, Ontario, with the official opening on May 11, 2010. An open casting call was held to find new talent. The run lasted for eight months, with closing night taking place on January 2, 2011.
First North American tour (2010–2011)
The first national touring production of North America began performances at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on September 21, 2010 and ran for ten months, closing at the National Theater in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2011. The tour visited sixty additional venues.
Second North American tour (Non-Equity) (2011–2014)
At the second national tour's 2012 stop in Austin, TX, critic Jeff Davis of BroadwayWorld.com gave the show a glowing review, calling it "the funniest, and often filthiest, jukebox musical" and gave high praise to the entire cast, saying "In addition to a stellar cast of principals, Rock of Ages features one of the hardest-working ensembles I’ve ever seen. They have more energy than a cokehead groupie, and they clearly have fun as the belt out rock standards, making the six-year-old show still feel fresh and new".
After nearly three years touring the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, the Second National tour closed at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. The two-and-a-half-week sit ran from August 6, 2014 through August 24, 2014.
Melbourne & Brisbane, Australia (2011)
The musical made its Australian premiere in April 2011 at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, with previews from March 2011. The production moved to the Lyric Theatre, QPAC in Brisbane from November 2011, where it closed on December 4, 2011.
Manila (2012, 2013, 2014)
Rock of Ages made its Asian English-language premiere with Atlantis Productions in Manila, Philippines. In this production, Mig Ayesa reprised the role of Stacee Jaxx, along with Nyoy Volante as Drew and Vina Morales as Sherrie. Also of note was Aiza Seguerra as Regina. The initial production was performed in the Carlos P. Romulo Theater at the RCBC Plaza in Makati from June 15, 2012 to July 8, 2012.
In 2013, Rock of Ages returned to Manila for a repeat run. Most of the original cast returned with the most notable exception being Rachel Alejandro replacing Jinky Llamanzares as Justice. This second run was also performed at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater from July 12, 2013 to July 28, 2013.
Las Vegas (2012–2017)
At the June 1, 2012, opening of the Bourbon Room on the casino floor at The Venetian, Las Vegas, it was announced that Rock of Ages would be coming to one of the resort's theaters beginning in December 2012. A “surprise” flashmob was deployed at the grand opening as the Venetian’s president, John Caparella, announced the musical’s new residency. The Venetian features an actual replica of “The Bourbon Room” complete with 1980s video music hosted by VJ Marvellous Mark and professional dancers, known as The Bourbon Babes. Rock of Vegas closed at Venetian on January 3, 2016 and transferred to the Rio Hotel and Casino. The show played its final performance at the Rio on January 1, 2017.
South Africa (2017)
In July 2017 it was announced that a non-replica production of Rock of Ages was to open in November 2017 at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City, South Africa.
The musical has had various international productions including Mexico City, Panama City, Guatemala City, Germany and Malta
Tenth Anniversary US National Tour (2019)
In 2019, It was announced that Rock of Ages would celebrate its tenth anniversary by going on a US National Tour for the first time ever since 2011.
The film rights for Rock of Ages were sold to Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. The film is directed by Adam Shankman and was originally expected to begin production in the summer of 2010, but started shooting in May 2011, for a June 15, 2012, theatrical release. Tom Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx in the film. Shankman knew Cruise was in when he heard him during a voice lesson, confirming he "has a fantastic voice". Cruise sang five hours a day to prepare for his role. "It's this brilliant mashup, it seems, of Axl Rose, Keith Richards and Jim Morrison", Shankman said of what to expect from Cruise.
On February 14, 2011, it was announced that Mary J. Blige had signed on to play Justice Charlier in the film. On March 3, 2011, it was confirmed that Julianne Hough will play the role of Sherrie. On March 6, 2011, it was confirmed that Alec Baldwin will play the role of Dennis Dupree. On March 24, 2011, it was announced that Paul Giamatti will be in the film, playing the manager of Stacee Jaxx.
Casts of major productions
- Notable Broadway Replacements
|Role||Original Off-Broadway Cast||Original Broadway Cast||First National Tour Cast||Original Australian Cast||Original West End Cast||UK Tour Cast||Original Las Vegas Cast||10th Anniversary US National Tour Cast||10th Anniversary UK Tour Cast|
|Drew Boley||Constantine Maroulis||Justin Burford||Oliver Tompsett||Noel Sullivan & Stephen Rolley (alternate)||Justin Mortelliti||Anthony Nuccio||Luke Walsh|
|Sherrie Christian||Kelli Barrett||Amy Spanger||Rebecca Faulkenberry||Amy Lehpamer||Amy Pemberton||Cordelia Farnworth||Carrie St. Louis||Katie LaMark||Danielle Hope / Jodie Steele|
|Lonny/Record Company Man||Mitchell Jarvis||Patrick Lewallen||Brent Hill||Simon Lipkin||Stephen Rahman-Hughes||Mark Shunock||John-Michael Breen||Lucas Rush|
|Stacee Jaxx/Sherrie's Father||Will Swenson||James Carpinello||MiG Ayesa||Michael Falzon||Shayne Ward||Ben Richards||Kyle Lowder||Sam Harvey||Sam Ferriday / Kevin Clifton / Antony Costa|
|Dennis/Record Company Man||Adam Dannheisser||Nick Cordero||Anthony Harkin||Justin Lee Collins||Daniel Fletcher||Troy Burgess||Ryan M. Hunt||Kevin Kennedy|
|Franz||Wesley Taylor||Travis Walker||Lincoln Hall||Sandy Moffat||Cameron Sharp||Kevin Hegmann||Chris Renalds||Andrew Carthy|
|Regina/Candi||Lauren Molina||Casey Tuma||Francine Cain||Jodie Jacobs||Jessie May||Aly Bloom||Kristina Walz||Rhiannon Chesterman|
|Justice/Sherrie's Mother||Michele Mais||Teresa Stanley||Rachel Dunham||Rachel McFarlane||Rachel McFarlane||Markesha McCoy||Kenya Hamilton||Zoe Birkett|
|Hertz||Paul Schoeffler||Bret Tuomi||David Whitney||Rohan Tickell||Jack Lord||Robert Torti||Andrew Tebo||Vas Constanti|
|Joey Primo||Jeremy Woodard||Joey Calveri||Alexander Ellis||Dylan Turner||Tom Andrew Hargreaves||Patrick Joyce||Mark Laduke||Alexander Day|
|Mayor/Ja'Keith (Paul) Gill||Brian Munn||Andre Ward||Rashad Naylor||Thern Reynolds||Nathan Amzi||Rakesh Boury||Robert Peters||Darrell Percell Jr.||Adam Strong|
|Waitress #1||Savannah Wise||Angela Brydon||Samantha Hagen||Twinnie Lee Moore||Abigail Climer||Amanda Miller||Brenna Wahl||Sinead Kenny|
|Constance Sack||Nova Bergeron||Katherine Tokarz||Lauralyn McClelland||Melanie Hawkins||Zizi Strallen||Imogen Brooke||Amy Ryerson||Emily Croft||Erin Bell|
|Young Groupie (Angel)||Angel Reed||Lindsay Janisse||Ellen Sutton||Amy Thornton||Kylie Michelle Smith||Allie Meixner||Carlina Parker||Saran Webb|
The songs are played in the 80's rock music style by the house band (Arsenal) appearing at the back of the stage rather than in the more traditional pit.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|2009||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Constantine Maroulis||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Kristin Hanggi||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design of a Musical||Gregory Gale||Nominated|
|Best Sound Design of a Musical||Peter Hylenski||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding New Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Wesley Taylor||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Distinguished Production of a Musical||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Wesley Taylor||Won|
Golden Mullet Awards
On October 26, 2009, the show hosted the first ever "Golden Mullet Awards" after the 8pm performance. Billed as "Broadway's fourth biggest night", the show gave out "Golden Mullets" (a mock of the Tony Award) to the best on Broadway. Many of the categories that used for the awards were also puns of songs from Rock of Ages itself.
The winners were:
- Nothin' But A Kick-Ass Band – Arsenal (Rock of Ages)
- Can't Fight This Feeling to Touch Your Hair – Will Swenson (Hair)
- Waiting For A Villain Like You – Christopher Sieber (Shrek the Musical)
- Cast Most Likely to Dance On a Car in a Whitesnake Video – In the Heights
- Best "In The Heat of the Moment" Moment – Constantine Maroulis and Kerry Butler (Rock of Ages)
One more award was presented to Bret Michaels of the band Poison in jest of his infamous injury at the 2009 Tony Awards, where after he was finished performing with the cast of Rock of Ages, a descending set piece knocked him down and broke his nose.
- "Laura Bell Bundy Stars in 'Rock of Ages' Tuner in LA Jan 26 – Feb 18", www.broadwayworld.com, November 30, 2005
- "Off Broadway". New World Stages. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
- "Rock of Ages Storms To Broadway 4/7, Previews Begin 3/20" www.broadwayworld.com
- BWW News Desk.Musical Chairs – ROCK OF AGES to Move to Helen Hayes; RAIN to Brooks Atkinson "Musical Chairs – 'Rock of Ages' to Move to Helen Hayes; 'Rain' to Brooks Atkinson" broadwayworld.com, December 6, 2010
- Wood, James. "Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Discusses His New Gig with Whitesnake". Guitar World. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Official Website". Blondie. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
- Gans, Andrew. ""The Final Countdown": Rock of Ages Ends Broadway Run" Playbill.com, January 18, 2015
- "Broadway 'Rock of Ages' Hits Shaftesbury, 31 Aug" whatsonstage.com
- "'Rock of Ages' Begins Performances Aug. 31 at the Shaftesbury Theatre" Archived 2011-09-14 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com
- "Rock of Ages musical calls time on West End run". bbc.co.uk/news. BBC News. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- BWW News Desk."'ROCK OF AGES' Launches 60-City National Tour in Chicago, 9/21".broadwayworld.com, March 1, 2010
- "Rock of Ages - Phoenix Entertainment". Rockofagesontour.com. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
- "BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES at PPAC - Lacks in Taste Compensates in Enthusiasm" broadwayworld.com
- "BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES is a Rowdy, Face-Melting Romp" broadwayworld.com
- "Phoenix Entertainment Latest News & Press Releases". Phoenix Entertainment. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "'Rock of Ages' Set to Premiere in Australia Early Next Year" broadwayworld.com
- Australian Cast Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine rockofagesaustralia.com.au
- "Rock of Ages Features Powerhouse Cast". Atlantis Productions Inc. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Rachel Alejandro joins the cast of 'Rock of Ages'". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- Rock of Ages - Website of the show in Le Théâtre
- "Photo Coverage: 'ROCK OF AGES' Meets the Press" broadwayworld.com, March 4, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam."Shankman Will Direct Rock of Ages on Screen" Archived 2009-10-23 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, October 20, 2009
- "Russell Brand Confirmed for Rock of Ages Movie Filming Begins in May" Archived 2011-04-17 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com
- Kit, Borys. (2011-02-11). "Tom Cruise Closing Deal to Co-Star in 'Rock of Ages'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- Stransky, Tanner. "'Rock of Ages': Director Adam Shankman on casting Diego Boneta, putting Tom Cruise through 'rock-star boot camp'". InsideMovies.EW.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- Malkin, Marc (4 April 2011). "Julianne Hough Lands Herself a Rock Star, Plus Tom Cruise Channels Debbie Gibson and Tiffany". E! Online. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- (2011-02-14). "Mary J. Blige Signs on for ROCK OF AGES Film". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- "Julianne Hough to Play Opposite Cruise in ROCK OF AGES Film". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11. Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
- "'Rock of Ages' adds '30 Rock's' Alec Baldwin to the club". HitFix.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- "Paul Giamatti joining Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin in 'Rock of Ages'". HitFix.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- "Constantine Maroulis on His 'Fun' Rock of Ages Cameo and Reinventing Jekyll & Hyde | Broadway Buzz". Broadway.com. 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
- Official site of Rock of Ages London
- Official site of Rock of Ages Broadway
- Official site of Rock of Ages Malta
- Official site of Rock of Ages Australia
- Official site of Rock of Ages Tour
- Rock of Ages Character Portraits by danscape
- Internet Broadway Database listing
- Internet Off-Broadway Database listing
- Producers of Rock of Ages Malta
- Official site of Rock of Ages in Switzerland