BDT Stage is known for doing a lot with a little bit, taking a dinner theatre budget and producing something epic and memorable. Their face-melting production of Rock of Ages packs in as much rock, hair spray, queer innuendo, and goofiness as possible—it even gets a little meta.
The show itself has been nominated for five Tony Awards, highlights a mash-up of classic rock and hair metal, and takes place in the 1980s in L.A. The loose premise is that German developers are trying to take over the historic Strip in L.A. and tear down all the rock clubs, while the two main characters, aspiring rock star Drew and small-town actress Sherrie, are trying to get together.
BDT’s version lives up to the Broadway hype surrounding the show, and executes with style. Their Sherrie definitely stole the show; she is gorgeous, short, and curvy and has an intense belt that meshed incredibly well with all the songs she sung. A close second for show-steeling was Lenny, the goofy character who doubles as show narrator and also the right hand man at a rock club. Lenny takes things in an unexpectedly queer direction at one point during the show, which the audience loved. He also broke the fourth wall to explain to the main character how he was in a musical, which got a rise out of the crowd.
While overstated, all of the characters are hilarious, and their banter makes the entire production feel like short and sweet, even though it’s a full evening affair. From the harsh German developer to the avid protester of the development, everyone is a quirky cartoon character.
There’s really nothing negative to say about the way BDT pulls off this performance. All of the songs soar and carry, and the audience on opening night was definitely up for singing and clapping along. Die-hard rock fans should keep in mind that the songs used in the play are all fairly mainstream and obvious, due to the intended audience and rights to music. Expect to hear a lot of Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, and Bon Jovi. Although there are allusions to bands like Judas Priest andMotörhead, their music isn’t used in the play. On that same ticket, theatre buffs should realize this is a fun, light, and campy show; don’t expect Hamilton-level insight about culture and politics from this one.
The show runs until November 11, and the food and speciality Rock of Ages drinks definitely make the performance worth the trip. Come rock out!