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Photo: Alan Dean Photography

Theatre Review: Rock of Ages at Meridian Theatres—until 03.15.20

By Laura Gauthier and Samara Caplan on March 9, 2020




Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Dust off your shoulder pads, tease your hair as high as it will go and get ready to travel back to the ‘80s at Meridian Theatre. Rock of Ages has landed and you’re in for a hilarious treat. This jukebox musical is filled with all those awesome ‘80s rock hits you know you still secretly love.

One of the most fun things about this show is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The audience first meets the hilarious fourth-wall-breaking narrator Lonny and quickly discovers that this show makes fun of the time period, the fashion, the music, and even being a musical itself. Lonny is played nearly to perfection by Brennan Richardson who will remind you of the Broadway actor Alex Brightman (currently of Beetlejuice fame, formerly of School of Rock fame) or the movie actor Jack Black, in his energy and dedication to the role—which makes it so fun and engaging for the audience. On opening night he even got to riff off the cuff when an audience member responded to what was supposed to be a rhetorical question—not an easy thing to pull off well—but he did to extra applause!

Lonny guides the audience through the story of two would-be lovers who are both trying to make it in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. Sherrie wants to be an actress and is dedicated to making it happen, but falters along the way. Drew wants to front a rock band but isn’t quite sure of himself and lets the wrong people guide him. Of course, things don’t always go as planned, and ultimately our cast, in different ways, learn that, “sometimes the dreams you come in with aren’t the ones you leave with, but they still rock.”

Photo: Alan Dean Photography

When the Sunset Strip these rockers know and love is threatened by developers who want to bulldoze the iconic rock clubs to make way for something less gritty and grimy, we see the music inspire groups to rebel and protest, using classic songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The whole show weaves your favourite songs into the story, and even when they don’t necessarily help move the story along, they’re fun and often funny in how they’re used.

Orpheus Musical Theatre always puts on high-quality productions that are worthwhile, and Rock of Ages is no exception. The cast was excellent, the staging was innovative and really set the scene well, and the costumes were stellar. Even though opening night saw a few lighting and sound issues, it was still a memorable and incredibly fun show. If you’re a fan of the movie, or a fan of this era of hair bands, or just want a trip down memory lane, Rock of Ages is well worth it. You’ll leave tapping your foot, banging your head and grinning from ear to ear.

Rock of Ages plays at Meridian Theatres until March 15. Tickets range from $27 – $57. The performance runs approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including intermission.