By Cindy Whitehair
We took a journey back in time, to Ogden Utah circa 1985 to see the Utah premier of Rock of Ages at the Ziegfield Theater. If you think you know the plot for this show based on the movie starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Cruise and Russel Brand, think again.
The first thing you encounter as you enter the theater is a gritty looking, multi-level (multi-function set) that is designed to be your backdrop for the seedy Bourbon Club on the Sunset Strip of the mid ’80s. Designed by Erica Choffel, it really worked well for the Zieg space and helped facilitate the nonstop action that took place throughout the show. It was also great camouflage for the speakers that were needed for the live rock band that was playing throughout the preshow, show and most of the intermission.
The band, aka The Arsenal, consisted of Rick Rea (keyboard), Jacob Lambros (guitar), Matt Conlin (bass), Cameron Kapetanov (drums) and Lindsay Kapetanov (cowbell) was superb. When you can go effortlessly through Ozzy (Crazy Train), Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear the Reaper) and Guns & Roses (Paradise City)–well, you got this ’80s gal hooked.
If you lived during the ’80s, then you know without a doubt that Costumer Alina Gatrell nailed the costumes. There was lots of mesh, funky, clunky heels, bright colors and concert t’s that were the staple of any ’80’s child’s wardrobe. The hair was *B*I*G* thanks to Wig and Makeup designer Dee Tur’one and oh my, that blue eyeshadow!
The cast did a great job conveying the fun of this show. A couple of shout-outs though to JJ Bateman (Lonny), Natalie Nichols (Sherri), Jake T. Holt (Drew), Brent Jorgensen (Hertz) and Derek Gregorson (Stacee Jaxx/Father). Each had their stand out moments during the show but it was Bateman’s Lonny that was the chronic scene stealer as the show’s narrator. His duet (I Can’t Stop This Feeling Anymore) with Daniel Akin (Dennis) was very sweetly, lightly, and humorously played.
But the biggest shout-out simply has to go to the ensemble. They were sharp, they were synchronized–there was no hiding. They were leaping off of platforms, hanging from the pole dancing poles, running up and down stairs, and just making choreographer Heidi Potter Hunt’s bold choreography look amazing. We had more fun just watching them dance!
The only real problem that we had with last night’s show was the sound. There were times when the actors were drowned out by the band, either due to bad mixing or mics not working. It was usually caught and corrected, but it did make for uneven sound quality in a show that demands outstanding sound quality.
All in all, director Trent Cox did an outstanding job keeping this herd of cats going in the same direction. This show is frantic and frenetic and it takes a director with vision and finesse to keep it contained but still right on the edge.
If you love ’80s music, then Rock of Ages is the show for you. One word of caution though, while significantly toned down from the movie, this play does carry a mild “R” rating. There was implied drinking and drug use, a lot of bumping and grinding in the dancing, and implied sexual situations and more than a little swearing. If any of that offends you, you are probably better off skipping this one.
However for us, it was well worth our time to make the 45-minute drive to Ogden for this show. If you get the chance to see it before it heads up to the Egyptian in Park City, go. You won’t regret it.
Rock of Ages presented by the Ziegfield Theatre Company. Tickets are $20.00 and are available at the door or at their website www.zigarts.com http://www.theziegfeldtheater.com/
Ziegfield Theatre Company, 3934 Washington Blvd (Hwy 89), Ogden Ut 84403
Remaining Performances: June 17, 18, 24th 7:30 PM, June 25th 7:30pm with a 2 PM matinee on June 25th