Monday, April 30, 2018

'Rock of Ages' showcases '80s music at Palo Alto Players

Jason Mooney, left, is Drew, Joey McDaniel is Dennis and Sven Schutz is Lonny. (Photo by Joyce Goldschmid)

Rock music from the 1980s highlights “Rock of Ages,” presented by Palo Alto Players.

Songs from groups like Styx, Poison, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and more are arranged by Ethan Popp to help tell a basic love story of boy meets girl, followed by complications and happily ever after.

In the book by Chris D’Arienzo, the primary setting is the Bourbon Room, a Hollywood bar/club owned by Dennis (Joey McDaniel). His top employee is Lonny (Sven Schutz), who serves as the emcee.

The busboy, Drew (Jason Mooney), wants to be a rock singer. He meets and falls for Sherrie (Jessica LaFever), who’s fresh out of Kansas and who wants to be an actress. 

However, he makes the mistake of telling her they’re just friends.

Feeling rejected, Sherrie has a brief fling with a vain rock star, Stacee Jaxx (Jimmy Mason), thus driving Drew away.

Complicating matters, a German developer, Herta (Barbara Heninger), accompanied by her son, Franz (Stephen Kanaski), wants to redevelop the area, including the club, which she obtains by eminent domain.

There’s much more, but all works out well in the end.

Directed by Janie Scott with musical direction by Lauren Bevilacqua, who leads the onstage band from the keyboard, the 17-member cast exudes high energy and features good singing and dancing.

Choreography is by Zendrex Liado, with a set by Patrick Klein, lighting by Edward Hunter and period costumes by Scarlett Kellum. All serve the show well.

On the other hand, sound by Brandie Larkin is so deafening that ushers pass out earplugs before the show. They’re needed.

Nevertheless, the show is likely to appeal to people who are familiar with the music or who like rock, but it’s tough sledding for those aren’t or don’t. Several people at the reviewed Sunday matinee, which tends to attract an older audience, left at intermission.

Palo Alto Players notes that the show has adult content, so it’s recommended only for ages 15 and up.

Running two and a half hours with one intermission, “Rock of Ages” will continue through May 13 at the Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

For tickets and information, call (650) 329-0891 or visit