Any child of the 1980's remembers fondly the ubiquitous adrenaline filled hair metal of the era. Rock of Ages, an 80’s themed homage to the decade, is coming to the Stranahan Theater on Thursday, February 6. The musical comedy centers on Drew, a naïve young man who moves to LA with big city dreams. He meets Sherri, a small town girl from Kansas, who is seeking out her own visions of stardom, but instead becomes entangled with an aging rocker. When developers come to demolish their beloved “Sunset Strips” for a capitalist strip mall, the young rockers fight back with the music of the 1980’s.
Billed as “Broadway’s best party,” Rock of Ages encourages audience participation. In the words of Dominique Scott (who plays the part of “Drew”), “It’s got a party atmosphere that is reminiscent of the (energetic) 1980’s music scene. The energy surprised me, along with the reaction people have to this show—there are lighters in the air, women throwing panties on stage, people singing and dancing while standing up in their seats. This is not a performance where people are expected to just sit quietly in their seats, as there is much room for freedom and audience participation. There are a lot of jokes. (Including some bathroom humor) It’s a throwback; ‘let’s just have fun.’ It’s an experience with big guitars and long hair flowing in the wind.”
The experience connects with the recollection that many theatergoers might have of the music of the day. When asked about his personal ‘80’s favorites Dominique Scott said, “Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and AC/DC. I was listening to a lot of 70’s and 80’s music growing up in the 1990’s while others were listening to the ‘Backstreet Boys’ .”
Scott’s enthusiasm for big, dirty rock music is authentic; in his off hours, he fronts his own band, “Domin8trx.” Between the two gigs, Scott knows a thing or two about rocking on stage. When asked about the stress of managing two separate musical careers, Scott said his mantra is “going with the flow.”
The theme in Rock of Ages that Scott identifies with is the importance of following one’s dreams, even when those dreams sometimes don’t turn out exactly as planned. For Scott, “We grow and change and that’s ok. […] My character Drew is sweet and naïve. He grows as he seeks his dreams.” Scott goes on to quote the narrator of the show, “Sometimes the dreams we come in with aren’t the dreams we leave with.”
For Scott this rings especially true: he was initially cut from the Broadway casting. Scott sent a video submission to the casting director to persuade him to change his mind. To quote the rock band Journey, “Don’t stop believing.”