It is 1987, and the fabled West Hollywood club – the Bourbon Room – is the sordid, vibrant heart of the Sunset Strip. The music venue has seen better days, but as run by chilled-out former rock impresario Dennis Dupree (Justin Michael Duval), it is the essence of rock and roll.
When bright-eyed young hopeful Sherrie Christian (Dariana Mullen), a small-town girl who wants to make it as an actress, arrives in town, she bumps into Drew (John Alejandro Jeffords), a Bourbon Room busboy with dreams of rock and roll stardom. Love-struck Drew convinces Dennis to hire Sherrie, and the stage seems set for their romance.
Yet when the Mayor of West Hollywood, persuaded by a couple of scheming German real estate developers (Michael Scott Harris and Joel Stephens), announces his intention to demolish the Bourbon Room and the entire gritty Sunset Strip, the stakes are raised. Dennis convinces rock god Stacee Jaxx (Shawn W. Smith) to play the band’s last show at the Bourbon Room, hopeful that the money raised will stop the building from being demolished. But Stacee, a man of massive charisma and ego, shakes things up even more.
With the beloved home of rock and roll being threatened with destruction, the rockers will do everything they can to save it, keeping the spirit of music alive.
The musical’s electric score boasts a bevy of ’80s rock anthems and power ballads including Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” among many others.
“Rock of Ages” opened on Broadway in April 2009 and played more than 2,300 performances, earning five Tony nominations including Best Musical. The show also enjoyed successful national and international tours and, in 2012, was turned into a major motion picture. In 2019, the Broadway musical celebrated its 10th anniversary and reprised the show in the Big Apple for a few months that same year.
The Arts Center’s production is directed and choreographed by Sara Brians of New York City, and musically directed by Lowcountry native Dan Gibson.
“Audiences are really getting into the spirit of the show,” said Andrea Gannon, Arts Center’s VP of Marketing. “There are a lot of ’80s rock fans out there, and some are even coming to the show in full ’80s garb – complete with big hair and black leather! We are getting great feedback on how fun the show is and welcome the enthusiasm. It’s definitely meant to feel like a party!”
This summer production will be onstage through Aug. 14. Tickets may be purchased by calling 843-842-2787 or online at tickets.artshhi.com.