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Civic visits ’80s music scene in ‘Rock of Ages’

September 14, 2018

Civic Theatre’s production of “Rock of Ages” fully embraces the late-’80s rock scene. There is long hair and short skirts, tight pants and headbands, sequins and leather : and a live band onstage, positioned above the set.

Along with the cast, that band will pump out classic rock tunes such as “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Leading man Chandler Chastain admits that because he wasn’t a child of the ’80s, he didn’t grow up with the music like many of his castmates. But he knows the audience is going to be familiar with the tunes.

That lends to a bit of apprehension, he says. But more than just learning the words, the music in the show has taken some vocal training.

“The thing that makes this show so difficult is that music, especially the males, they sing so incredibly high,” he says. “This show just does everything in the original keys and the same way the original artist did it because you can’t fool your audience who already knows every song.”

In the musical, Chastain’s Drew works at the bar in the Bourbon Room while dreaming of being a hair-metal rocker. His big music break comes along, but not quite in the way he hoped : he becomes a member of a boy band. Meanwhile, he falls for Sherrie, a small-town girl that arrives in Los Angeles hoping to make it as an actress. The seedy Bourbon Room is run by Dennis, who convinces rock legend Stacee Jaxx to put on his band’s final show at the club in hopes of saving the fabled venue.

The cast includes Halee Bandt as Sherrie, Brad Beauchamp as Dennis and Christopher Foust as Stacee. Doug King directs the show, which opens tonight and runs through Sept. 23.

“Rock of Ages” doesn’t shy away from the era’s “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” vibe, which is why the show has an R rating. Though that might keep some classical musical fans away, Chastain thinks the rock theme and humor could attract an audience that might not come out to a traditional musical theater production.

“I honestly appreciate the show even more for the hilarious script than I do the music,” he says. “It’s just really raunchy and funny.”

: Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette

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