Can a musical about Sunset Blvd.’s infamous Heavy Metal scene during the 1980’s appeal to the more “conservative” tastes of Orange County? It can if it’s “Rock Of Ages”-the awesome, watershed stage experience that has been playing to packed houses on the Great White Way and beyond since 2009! Nominated for five Tony awards including “Best Musical” and for lead actor Constantine Maroulis, (who continues his “direct from Broadway” winning streak as “Glam-Rock“ hopeful, Drew Bowie,) critics have hailed this as “the little show that could”. Now it makes its way to the main stage of the Segerstrom Center For The Arts (Formerly, the Orange County Center For The Performing Arts) in Costa Mesa, CA after wrapping up a successful run in Hollywood.
A concert featuring several from the cast was held on Thursday afternoon, February 24, at the city’s famous South Coast Plaza to promote the upcoming week of performances slated for March 1-6. Playing to an audience comprised of a unique mix of upscale shoppers, seasoned metal-heads already very familiar with the material (–some having seen the show numerous times) trendy teens and mothers with small children–everyone enjoyed this often brash, but always entertaining musical post-lunch hour change of pace!
At 1 PM sharp, members of the company ascended the stage in the Jewel Court in front of Macy’s to give just a brief sampling of what to look forward to, as they belted out a few of “Rock Of Ages’’ more notable numbers.
Sean Jenness, who understudies “Lonnie” (“Rock Of Age’s” wise-cracking narrator) served as M.C. for the afternoon, joined by cast members including Mig Ayesa–former contender for lead singer of INXS on the popular reality contest “Rock Star”. Ayesa plays “Stacy Jaxx” lead singer of the fictional “Hair Band“ “Arsenal”, and kicked things off with a blended rendition of Bon Jovi‘s classic “Dead Or Alive” (a song that not coincidentally, introduces his character in the show,) then, backed by a powerhouse of voices supplied by the rest of the cast, expertly segued into ’Mr. Big’s” “To Be With You”. Immediately following, the ladies took charge and shook the house, as Rebecca Faulkner, the show’s Lollapalooza of a leading lady, who stars as the vivacious Sherrie (–a dreamy-eyed girl from the Midwest who goes ‘motorin’ to Hollywood searching for stardom and finds true love,) joined Teresa Stanley–herself the unadulterated vocal equivalent to a super nova in the role of Justice, the Proprietress of the local “Gentlemen’s Club”; together, they dazzled the audience with the rock-ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. Suffice it to say, “Have these gal got the pipes!“ Not to be easily outdone though, Ayesa and Jenness returned to harmonize an incredible ’acoustic” version of ’Extreme’s” haunting “More Than Words”.
All of the songs featured in the concert are similarly included in the show, whose score is comprised of popular heavy-metal classics from “back in the day”, and each this day were simply but effectively backed by two guitarists situated on either side of the stage; all the better though for this talented troupe of genuinely high-octane troubadours to fully take the spotlight. Never was this more apparent than in the afternoon’s crowd-pleasing closer (which likewise serves as “Rock Of Age’s” roof-raising finale too,) “Don’t Stop Believing’.
Has South Coast Plaza ever been jolted with such pure rock and roll energy? Even were the answer to be in the affirmative, one thing’s certain, it’s not likely to be again so magnificently any time soon. In fact, if Thursday’s concert is any indication, the entire Orange County area is in for some truly electrifying performances, when “Rock Of Ages” ‘rocks‘ Segerstom Center For The Arts!
All Photos Courtesy Of Lance Perkins and Lance Magazine. For more information, log onto: www.lancemag.com