Tuesday, May 31, 2016

reviews - ROCK OF AGES - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Laurie Elizabeth Gardner and Seth Hunter
Photo by Joe Samplin
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through June 19th.

",,,ABT’s production of Rock of Ages is so much giddy fun.  It’s full of glorious bad taste, big hair, loud guitar licks, songs you’d forgotten you ever knew, and it’s all very, very funny.  But more importantly, at ABT under Kurtis W. Overby’s lively direction and fun, hands-clenched-in-the-air choreography, plus Mark 4Man’s loud synth and heavy metal musical direction, it’s also done very well....Chris D’Arienzo...hasn’t simply bridged popular 80’s songs with a plot that serves merely as a way of getting to the next big number, he makes almost every line spoken in one way or another funny....Casting is good and appropriate throughout, not just the leads but the whole supporting ensemble ...Matthew Mello’s hilarious mullet-wearing narrator Lonny...Laurie Elizabeth Gardner...is an outstanding Sherrie...ABT’s production of Rock of Ages delivers exactly what Poison promises, Nothin’ But A Good Time. ..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"...This story of an innocent boy and a small-town girl...is a sordid and campy, but also heartwarming and hilarious, celebration of all things sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Arizona Broadway Theatre presents the local regional premiere of the Tony nominated musical with a terrific and exceptionally hard-working cast and sublime creative elements that are all on par with the recent Broadway production. The show is set in 1987 in Los Angeles, in the time and place of big hair and big dreams, where Drew, a wannabe rock star, and Sherrie, a hopeful young actress, suffer life's trials, tribulations and setbacks, both romantic and professional....However, Rock of Ages isn't without its faults. The first act is a little bumpy, mainly in the somewhat forced plot developments and in how many of these hit songs aren't sung in their entirety, with several combined with other songs or just ending abruptly...Fortunately, the second act lets the songs stand alone with back to back duos ...and the entire show culminates in a joyous, kick-ass, and emotionally satisfying conclusion. The ABT cast is exceptionally talented. Seth Hunter brings a huge dollop of genuine vulnerability to the part of good-guy Drew. ...Laurie Elizabeth Gardner is superb as the sweet and fresh-faced Sherrie...The duo create characters you root for and their many moments together, including a rocking duet of "Higher," are excellent. Matthew Mello is sublime as Lonny, the narrator who is both lewd and mischievous yet completely funny and full of charm....Kurtis W. Overby's direction is solid, instilling sincerity, conviction, and a wink to the '80s parody from his cast, and his choreography is full of energy and fire...Mark 4Man's music direction draws stellar vocals from the cast, and his conducting of the five piece band is spotless. ABT's creative and production elements just keep getting better and this show achieves brilliant Broadway-level results from the talented designers. ...Rock of Ages is clearly not Oklahoma! as far as being a traditional musical, so it may not appeal to everyone. Musical theatre purists or those who didn't grow up in the 1980s or aren't fans of the power rock anthems and head-banging music of that era may actually find it a miserable experience. However, even while the book is slight and the plot predictable, at its core Rock of Ages treats its characters and the time period with respect, and when performed with passion and power, and produced with superb creative aspects, which this ABT production has in spades, it all amounts to an incredibly good time."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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