Having been born in the ’90s doesn’t stop Christopher Renalds from loving the music of the ’80s.
Singing Pat Benatar’s 1980 classic, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” never gets old for the musical theater enthusiast, who’s starring in the touring production of the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” The 2009 musical spawned the 2012 eponymous film that starred Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Julianne Hough. The show will stop by the Pikes Peak Center on Tuesday.
“The music of the ’80s is both so rough and so fun,” Renalds said from a tour stop in Charleston, S.C. “Nostalgia is so important to who we are as people. There are so many (theater) pieces challenging your perspective, but let’s remember that crazy, wild, profane time of the mid- to late ’80s. Nobody dresses like Bret Michaels anymore, and they probably shouldn’t, but it’s OK to look back at how funny it was.”
It’s the 10th anniversary of the musical that pays homage to classic ’80s rock music, with songs by glam-metal bands Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Poison and others. The story tracks three Hollywood musicians: Sherrie, an aspiring young actress from the Midwest, who arrives in town with a thirst for the spotlight; Drew, a wannabe rock star, who falls in love with her; and Stacee Jaxx, a hot rock star at the pinnacle of his career. Life seems rich with opportunity for the three, until a real estate developer arrives and want to transform the Sunset Strip into a strip mall.
“But in These Straitened Economic Times the allure of nostalgia cannot be underestimated. ‘Rock of Ages’ does not aspire to be a Broadway musical for the ages, but for anyone whose youth coincided with the time period in question, the siren call of those screaming guitars and singalong choruses may be impossible to resist,” critic Charles Isherwood wrote in The New York Times in 2009.
Renalds plays Franz, son of the real estate developer who tries to wreak havoc on the Strip. He made his musical theater debut in “The Music Man” as a pre-teen. He loved everything about it. In high school, he realized it was his calling, which threw his Silicon Valley parents off-kilter. They hoped he’d be a lawyer, a far cry from his passion, but they ponied up support for his choice.
After earning a bachelor’s in musical theater from Emerson College in Boston, he moved to New York City. Along the way he spent almost two years working for Disney Cruise Line and portrayed the characters Peter Pan and Quasimodo. He also developed a stellar “princess whistle,” which is listed on his resume under special talents.
“It was kind of a joke,” he said. “I have an acting coach who said, ‘You should have a conversation piece to put on your resume to open the door.’ I’ll do an audition, and they’ll say: ‘Princess whistle?’ I say, ‘Name the princess.’ They say Ariel, and I say OK and start whistling ‘Part of Your World.’”
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