Rock back in time — to the '80s with 'Ages'

Broadway hit with classic rock music comes to Kingsbury

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 6:36 p.m. MST

Matt Nolan as Stacee Jaxx sings "Wanted: Dead or Alive" in the musical "Rock of Ages."

Scott Suchman

SALT LAKE CITY — Fill in the blanks:

1) Ain't looking for nothing but a _____ _______ how can I ______?

2) We're not gonna take it, __! We ain't ____ _____ __!

3) Just a city boy, born and raised in _____ _______.

4) He took the ________ train goin' _________.

If, by playing the fill-in-blank game, you find yourself digging through your old cassette tapes, thinking about some awesome MTV videos and ratting your hair — you MUST get yourself and your hairband buddies to Kingsbury Hall to see "Rock of Ages."

The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2009, garnering five Tony Award nominations, is essentially a loving tip of the hair-sprayed hair to the 1980s rock classics.

And they pack 'em in there: Styx, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Journey — more than 20 rock favorites, laced throughout a surprisingly engaging story line.

"That's the thing that we keep hearing — that the show is 'so much more' than people thought it would be," said Adam John Hunter, the associate director, who has worked on six previous productions of "Rock of Ages" and directed this national tour. "It always goes back to exceeding people's expectations. They'll say 'it's so much funnier than I thought,' or 'it rocks so much more than I thought' or 'it's so much more of a musical than I thought.' It's just a fantastic place to be."

This is your chance to go back in time to 1987, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, in the heart of the hair-band rock craze. Drew, born and raised in South Detroit (of course), dreams of being on stage. He meets Sherrie, a small-town girl (of course), also chasing her dream.

There is the requisite amount of cheese in there, but it's all in fun. "It's tongue-in-cheek and they break the fourth wall," Hunter said. "But none of the jokes are mean, which I like.

"We try to celebrate the fun side of the era," he said. "In a lot of biographies and in 'Behind the Music,' it's always about the drugs and the bands breaking up, and we shy away from that. We don't go into the negative side — we just focus on the party of it all."

And they've clearly done something right. "Rock of Ages" has been running on Broadway for three years and spawned seven other productions, including two national tours, and, in June, will open in movie theaters across the country starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough and Alec Baldwin.

This is your chance to see it first, live — heads banging, guitars licking.

"The show is set right in the middle of the MTV thing," Hunter said. "So whether or not you listened to that kind of music back then, we all have a connection to it.

"It's been the little show that could. It started in a club in L.A., moved to Vegas, then a workshop in New York, then off-Broadway, now Broadway.

"And across the world, people go nuts for it."

Sensitivity rating: "Rock of Ages" has language, suggestive dance moves, and scant costumes on dancers.

If you go …

What: "Rock of Ages," National Tour

When: March 2-3, times vary

Where: Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. President's Circle

How much: $35-$62.50

Phone: 801-581-7100

Web: www.kingsburyhall.utah.edu

email: ehansen@desnews.com

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