May 25--Part of the appeal of a jukebox musical is that, even if the story is unfamiliar, at least we already know the songs.
In the case of "Rock of Ages," at the Fox Theatre for a too-short run that wraps up Sunday, those songs are hits by big-haired rockers of the 1980s. They're so familiar that you'll probably want to sing along. (But please don't.)
Songs by Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Journey, Steve Perry, Poison, Styx, Twisted Sister and more are included -- some in their entirety, some in clever mashups and others as snippets. "We Built this City," "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" are oft-repeated refrains in this crude, well-choreographed romp through the rock scene.
The story of aspiring-actress Sherrie and wannabe-rocker Drew, who fall in love while working at the Bourbon Room on LA's Sunset Strip, is presented as -- fittingly -- a Broadway musical. Lonny, the club's "sound god" and assistant to owner Dennis, is also the show's narrator -- like Bert from "Mary Poppins," but wielding nunchucks instead of a broom.
"I wanted to explore deep and thoughtful theater with complex characters and a challenging plot," Lonny explains. "Instead, I was hired to narrate a show with poop jokes and Whitesnake songs."
When a pair of German developers comes to town to rid the strip of its sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the Bourbon Room faces demolition, and a farewell performance at the club by sleazy rock star Stacee Jaxx drives Drew and Sherrie apart.
"Rock of Ages" played the Fox in February 2012, and much of the hard-working cast remains: Justin Colombo as Lonny, Jacob L. Smith as Dennis, Dominique Scott as Drew, Shannon Mullen as Sherrie, Chris Sams as the mayor, Philip Peterson and Stephen Michael Kane as developers Hertz and Franz, Danny McHugh as Joey Primo, and Amma Osei as Justice. Universo Pereira is Stacee Jaxx, and Megan McHugh is city planner Regina.
The actors are all talented vocalists, and it's clear they enjoy this show as much as the audience does.
With winks to pop culture of the '80s, musical theater and sexual innuendo, "Rock of Ages" doesn't take itself too seriously.
Quite the opposite; it's some of the most fun you'll have at the theater.
What "Rock of Ages" --When 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday --Where Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard --How much $30-$80 --More info MetroTix.com
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