It had been hyped for more than a year before its run through Prince Rupert and audiences found out exactly why last weekend when ‘Rock of Ages’ finally hit the Lester Centre of the Arts.
Months and months of hard work rehearsing, set organizing, lighting preparation and overall blood, sweat (much of this, specifically) and tears culminated in a fantastic show by the cast, crew and everyone involved to put on this infamous rock epic that’s been adapted into a feature-length film and is a regular hit on Broadway.
Right from the very beginning, as the sultry P.A. introduction voice carried audiences full throttle into the world of 1980s’ Hollywood (including a clever jab at Def Leppard, who wouldn’t relinquish the rights to their songs for the production) and our character-filled Bourbon Room, the Lyle McNish-directed and Crystal Lorette-produced ‘Rock of Ages’ adaptation was a mile-a-minute uproarious thrill ride.
Characters, familiar to some who have already experienced the play, were given new life by the expertly-casted actors, all of them triple threats in acting, dancing and singing.
The mainstay characters were there, played brilliantly by Aaron Viktil (Drew), Lauren Armstrong (Sherrie) and Josh Marsh (Stacee Jaxx), but it was also the supporting cast that garnered some of the biggest laughs from the crowd.
Chrys Thompson, playing our narrator Lonny, brought audiences into the staged world with his no-holds-barred enthusiasm, interesting dance moves, laudable attempts at pole-dancing and choice of formalwear (graphic tee).
Lonny made the crowd fall in love with the everyday group of misfits, who dared to dream big, and the actors’ performances solidified that connection.
It’s a familiar story, a point not lost on the playwrights who often broke the fourth wall masterfully through Lonny and that typical love story became atypical when the shenanigans of Drew, Sherrie, Dennis Dupree (played by John Hughes), Stacee Jaxx and perhaps the dark-horse show-stealer, Franz Klinemann (Tristan Higginson) appeared onstage. Franz, the German son of ruthless business mogul Hertz Klinemann (Paul Paling), is torn between his duty to his father and his empathetic and sensitive side. He’s drawn to Regina (Chelsea Stamp-Vincent), the altruistic activist.
Higginson’s portrayal of the eccentric, flamboyant heir had onlookers in stitches as he pranced from one awkward position to the other, with a spot-on accent.
The comedic timing of the entire cast makes you think they’ve all been doing stand-up in their spare time in some secret awesome club somewhere in northern B.C.
This was no toned down, small town version of the epic, either. No ‘Rock of Ages’ production worth its salt is complete without the music, and no Rupert production would fall flat on that.
Music director Peter Witherly and the band, consisting of Brian Miller (lead guitar), Mark Giordano (bass), drums (Paul Cox) and keyboards (Jeff Saunders) with acoustic guitar guests Ian Lihou and Frank Pyde were additional stars of the show.
From the behind-the-scenes coordinators to the stars on stage, ‘Rock of Ages’ was a pure treat and one of the biggest action-packed thrill rides to hit Prince Rupert in years.
Kevin Campbell/Northern View
Aaron Viktil plays Drew, the aspiring rock star, in the “Rock of Ages” play performed at the Lester Centre of the Arts from April 7-9.