The '80s Reborn

Rock of Ages at the TCC Music Hall

The musical Rock of Ages is not for prudes; after all, at one point, the lead female character ends up giving a lap dance to a fading rock legend at a Los Angeles strip club.

However, Rock of Ages is definitely for music fans: The book is based on classic-rock hits of the '80s.

The show, which comes to the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall next week, was nominated for five Tony Awards. It tells the story of Drew, a big-city dreamer who falls in love with Sherrie, a small-town girl, on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip in 1987.

Both have big dreams: He wants to become a rock star, and she wants to become an actress. But things go horribly wrong, and their dreams don't come true as they'd hoped.

As they struggle for success, another issue arises: A developer wants to tear down the Bourbon Room, the bar where they met. (Drew is a busboy, and Sherrie is a waitress.) To save the bar, the owner tries to get Stacee Jaxx, the lead singer of the band Arsenal, to play the group's farewell concert at the Bourbon Room.

Complications ensue when Sherrie, thinking that Drew no longer cares for her, has a quickie with Jaxx in the bar's men's room. Things get even more dicey when Sherrie takes a job at the Venus Club and is forced to give a lap dance to a drunken Jaxx.

As the plot thickens, the action moves along to tunes made famous by '80s bands like Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, Poison and Asia. A total of 28 classic rock songs are featured, including "Don't Stop Believin',' "Harden My Heart" and "I Want to Know What Love Is."

The musical premiered in Los Angeles in 2005, and moved to Broadway in 2009. The Tucson show is part of the musical's second national tour. A movie version, slated for release this summer, features Tom Cruise as Jaxx, and Alec Baldwin as the owner of the Bourbon Room.

"We were lucky to get Rock of Ages in its West Coast stride," said Mario Di Vetta, marketing and sales manager for Broadway in Tucson, which brings about a half-dozen Broadway shows to Tucson each season.

Di Vetta said he saw the show in San Francisco about a year ago. "I had the best time in the theater that I had in a long time," he said.

Rock of Ages doesn't take itself too seriously, and that is exactly why it works, Di Vetta said. "It is a great show to see with a bunch of friends."

Because it's not a traditional musical, it will appeal to people who might not normally think of themselves as fans of the genre, Di Vetta said.

"I want people who are not used to musical theater to come to this show," he said. "They will fall in love."

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