The Tony-nominated Broadway show is a classic “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl becomes a stripper before finding her way back to boy” romance, set against a backdrop of the famed Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, circa 1987.
It’s a time when hairspray and spandex ruled, eyeliner looked equally great on boys and girls, and the rock music was big and loud.
Pat Benatar, Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, REO Speedwagon, Poison, Styx, Bon Jovi. You get the idea.
The five-week run opens the 2015-16 season at the Modern Theater Coeur d’Alene today. When the show was offered to them – it’s the regional theater West Coast premiere – they jumped at it. George Green, executive artistic director of the Modern Theater, said the company was eager to kick off its season with something on the lighter side.
“We’ve done so many opening productions that were classics, so many opening productions that were heavy hitters, and these enlightening productions, we just wanted to do something that was fun,” he said.
The show is about a (quick, name that Journey song) small-town girl named Sherrie (Quinn Vaira), who moves from Kansas to Hollywood with dreams of becoming an actress. She lands a job waitressing at the Bourbon Room, the Sunset Strip rock club that gave rise to Stacey Jaxx (Christopher Sweet) and his band Arsenal. Working at the Bourbon Room is Drew (Brendan Brady), who dreams of finding rock stardom – and who falls hard for Sherrie. The story unfolds as the owner of the Bourbon Club, Denis Dupree (Doug Dawson), is facing closure as business elements aim to clean up the strip. Narrating our tale is Lonny (Daniel McKeever), who works at the Bourbon Room.
Brady, as Drew, is a familiar face on the Modern stage. He was Lee Harvey Oswald in “Assassins” this summer, Enjolras in “Les Miserables” last season, and had roles in “Rent,” “Spring Awakening,” “Into the Woods,” and “Guys and Dolls.” Green, who’s directing “Rock of Ages,” said Brady’s one of the best tenors around the Inland Northwest.
“There are some notes that I don’t think many humans can sing that are in this show, and he gets right through them,” Green said. “I mean, we’re talking Journey and Foreigner. C’mon, you know? Who are you going to find to sing those roles? Brendan Brady.”
As Sherrie, Vaira is making her first stop on the Modern stage. She’s just off the national tour of “VeggieTales” and has worked with the Fort Peck Theatre in Montana and Arizona Broadway Theatre in Phoenix. The University of Montana graduate “will turn some heads,” Green said.
“She is a regional professional and she is quite the find,” he said. “She has been just incredible to work with. … She is a top-notch talent. Her ability to sing, and her ability to move, she’s a solid triple-threat.”
The show itself features some crude language and scantily clad women – portions of it are set in a strip club, after all, and it is set in the world of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. And with all that rock music, it’ll be loud.
But, Green said, there’s a lot of good humor here, too.
“There is no stone we have not turned over to make a joke happen every 30 seconds in this show,” Green said. “We hope the audience can catch their breath so they can laugh again. It is nonstop killer music, a party, and just one long joke.”