Surflight Education Department Performing ‘Rock of Ages’

Oct 18, 2017
Photo by: Steve Moran

Surflight Theatre’s Educational Department will present the big-haired musical “Rock of Ages” (high school edition) this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20 and 21, at 7:30 p.m. and this Saturday and Sunday, Oct, 21 and 22, at 2 p.m.

Fourteen tweens and teens make up the cast, directed by one of Surflight’s favorite directors/choreographers, Paula Hammons Sloan, who doubles as the theater’s director of education.

The pick of “Rock of Ages” was a natural considering it is wildly popular among that age group. Which is kind of interesting considering it is a jukebox musical based around the glam metal sounds of bands that were all the rage in the 1980s such as Journey, Twisted Sister and Styx. Music such as that would seem to be ancient history for today’s teens, yet it lives on.

It opened on Broadway on April 7, 2009 and ran for 2,328 regular performances and 22 previews. When it closed in New York it quickly became a favorite for high school drama troupes, with Pinelands Regional High School being the first to produce it in the entire country in October 2015.

How can you patch together a musical around unrelated songs such as “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “We Built This City,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Don’t Stop Believing”? The show’s book writer, Chris D’Arienzo, solved the puzzle by setting the show in a mythical Sunset Boulevard rock club called the Bourbon Room in 1987 and by adding an element of classical Broadway musicals, a love story.

The Bourbon Room is owned by Dennis Dupree (Ethan DiFrancia), assisted by Lonny Barnett (Josiah Jacoby) and a busboy, Drew Boley (Alex Pallen), who desperately wants to be a rock star. Drew’s life changes, uh, dramatically when Sherry Christian (Adina Paciello), a wide-eyed girl from Kansas (a tip of the hat to “The Wizard of Oz”), arrives in the big city with a dream of becoming a movie star. Drew immediately falls in love and convinces Dennis to hire her as a waitress.

The Bourbon Club is in big trouble. A pair of German developers, Hilda and Franz Klinemann, are trying to convince the city’s mayor to clean up the Strip. For this urban redevelopment to move ahead the Bourbon Club will have to go! City planner Anita Bath (Aly Landon) is disgusted by the idea.

Dennis decides to go out with a bang and hires Stacee Jaxx (Nicholas Leek), who has recently broken up with his mega-band Arsenal, to reunite with his band for the club’s last show. But Stacee, a huge rock star, has all of a huge rock star’s vainglorious traits and soon causes trouble, especially for Sherry, who is fired and begins working at another club owned by Justice Charlier (Rachel Balko).

Will the Bourbon Room be saved? Will Drew become a rock star? Most importantly, will Drew and Sherry live happily ever after?

Sorry, no spoilers here. You’ll have to take in the show to discover the answers to those questions.

This writer took in a relatively early rehearsal of this production – the actors were still growing accustomed to their wigs – so I can’t “review it.” I can say, however, that one of its highlights is its dance, aided by a talented ensemble including Jonathan Leach, Mikaela McGovern, Mia Montero, Krista Paciello and Mia Spallina.

All tickets for “Rock of Ages” are $20 and may be purchased online at or at the door.  —R.M.


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