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Review: Arts Club Theatre Company’s Rock of Ages

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This past Wednesday on June 22nd, I attended the opening night performance of Rock of Ages, a musical inspired by the 80’s.

The story is set in 1987, Los Angeles. One aspiring rocker, Drew played by Kale Penny, and one aspiring actress, Sherrie played by Marlie Collins, happen to meet by chance. Their instant chemistry takes them on a wild ride as the city begins drastic redevelopment plans. It is these plans that threaten to do away with the very musical scene both characters have come to love and appreciate. Through the help of the entire rock community, efforts to save a well known Hollywood bar called the Bourbon Room from being demolished is set and the process of doing so brings many individuals together.

The story held strong themes of following one’s dreams, no matter the cost. However, more importantly, the story emphasized the fact that dreams can change according to new situations and new people one comes in contact with.

As evident, Rock of Ages is a pretty feel good story. the Arts Club did a fantastic job in lifting the spirits of the audience in accordance to the mood of the musical, especially near the end of the performance. In an up-beat finale, the entire cast came together and sang the well-known song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Some members of the cast even walked down the aisles of the theatre as the audience clapped and sang along.

I must admit that while Rock of Ages had pretty fantastical musical numbers, it lacked depth and character. The love story between Drew and Sherry, in essence, was a tiring series of endless “she said, he said” lines, while the resolution of the big issue at hand (i.e. the potential demolition of The Bourbon Room) boiled down to one convenient “ah-ha” moment. Additionally, I felt the excessive raunchiness of nearly all of the jokes, as well as, the over-the-top caricaturization of the entire company really made the play quite hard to sit through at times.

As much as I enjoyed the flashy scenes on stage and the heart-felt throwbacks to the classical rock era, the play did not meet my expectations of being a meta-theatrical jukebox musical. Rather, what I saw on Wednesday night was more a rock concert than a theatrical performance; about two and half hours of big 80’s hits performed by Vancouver’s finest through a loose, sexually charged narrative.

So, all in all, it was a fun night but definitely not my usual cup of tea. That being said, who’s to say a night of purely unadulterated musical entertainment is not yours? Tickets for Arts Club Theatre Company’s Rock of Ages is open now until July 30th. You can purchase tickets by clicking here

Written By Christine Kim