By Chris Heide
Picture this. A frigid winter storm hits Seattle, leaving the state of opening night of Rock Of Ages at the 5th Avenue Theatre in question. As the old show business adage goes, the show must go on! Playing to a semi-full house, the opening night of performance of Rock Of Ages was filled with an electric and infectious energy.
As far as musical theater goes, Rock Of Ages is a fairly simply story. Boy meets girl. Boy wants to be famous. That fame gets in the way of the loves. It’s a tried-and-true plot device that you can see in almost any other musical. However, what makes Rock Of Ages so special is that the score and book is filled with iconic, chart-topping rock anthems from the 1980s.
Staring newcomer Galen Disston of Pickwick, Rock Of Ages boasts an impressive cast of talented performers, including Seattle theater veteran Diana Huey. Disston’s vocal range is captivating and powerful. It easily holds up when compare t the more seasoned theater performers on stage. In addition, Nik Hagen steals the show as the indelibly delightful Franz.
While the show is a bit unpolished in certain spots, overall it is a tremendously enjoyable tour-de-force of beloved 80’s music. Featuring a bevy of famous songs, including Dead or Alive, I Want to Know What Love Is, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and Don’t Stop Believing, Rock Of Ages is propulsive and progresses at a breakneck pace.
This kind of production is not for the faint of heart. It is a non-stop bombardment of crotch-grabbing, profanity, implied sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Subtlety is blatantly not synonymous with Rock Of Ages.
While Rock Of Ages is sure to turn off some theater purists, it is a widely accessible show for the masses. It is indelibly clever for the 5th Avenue to expand its repertoire beyond its typical slate of classical musical theatre productions. Doing so sparks universal interest in the theater and allows the coveted art form to become more widely accessible. It is a brilliant addition to the impressive history of the beloved theater.