'Rock of Ages' a feel-good show for hair band fans
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 7-8
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Cost: $38-$58; pikespeakcenter.com or ticketswest.com
The film version of “Rock of Ages” doesn’t have anything on the Broadway musical, at least according to Shannon Mullen, the female lead in the touring theater show. Granted, she’s probably not the most objective person to ask.
“The movie is very different. I’m partial to the show,” Mullen says from a tour stop in Winnipeg, Canada. “It’s different when you do eight shows a week, and there’s no recording studio to fix your vocals. A lot of fun characters were removed from the movie and they changed the storyline, especially my character. I didn’t feel like I was watching the same show I do every night.”
Mullen, 25, stars as Sherrie, the “small-town girl, living in a lonely world,” to steal Journey’s lyrics from their iconic song “Don’t Stop Believing.” The show takes place circa 1987 and the young wannabe actress arrives in Hollywood, hoping for her turn in the limelight. She gets a job at the big rock club Bourbon Street, modeled after Whiskey a Go Go, the famous real-life Sunset Strip club, falls for a rock musician named Drew and must eventually choose between fame and love.
The cliche plotline is mostly a vehicle for hair band music from the 1980s. The soundtrack extravaganza is plump with popular songs from the likes of Styx, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe. The musical will be at the Pikes Peak Center on Monday and Tuesday.
The big hair and skimpy costumed musical debuted on Broadway in 2009 and earned five Tony Award nominations. Constantine Maroulis, a finalist on the reality TV series “American Idol,” earned one of them as Drew in the original Broadway cast. The film version of “Rock of Ages” was released in June, starring Julianne Hough from “Dancing With the Stars” in the Sherrie role. Numerous well-known actors filled out the cast, including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
This isn’t Mullen’s first twirl at the musical rodeo. She landed her first touring production - a role in “Hairspray” - during her last semester at the University of Buffalo, where she studied musical theater. She graduated and hit the road for six months. Next up was nine months of “Legally Blonde,” and then her dream role in “Rock of Ages,” which she’s starred in for the past 18 months and racked up more than 370 performances.
One of the show’s secrets to its popularity, beyond the overarching message of “don’t stop believing,” she says, is its sense of humor. Nobody in the show takes himself seriously, and the narrator and actors frequently break the fourth wall and speak to the audience.
“The whole (show) is a recurring joke,” she says. “People never expected it to be as funny as it is. It’s a feel-good show, people are laughing from beginning to end.”