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Critic's Choice: ‘Rock of Ages’ has thin story but strong cast

September 22, 2017 at 4:18 PM

Original Article:

Critic's Choice: ‘Rock of Ages’ has thin story but strong cast

By TOM WITOM – editorial(at)

A scene from “Rock of Ages” features Gene Weygandt (left rear) as Dennis, owner of Bourbon Room night club, and Tiffany Tatreau (left front) as a protesting city planner Regina. Also pictured are George Keating as Hertz, a German developer, and Nick Cosgrove as Hertz’s son, Franz.

OAKBROOK TERRACE – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” “High Enough.” “Here I Go Again.” “I Can’t Stop This Feeling.” “The Final Countdown.”

How many of the 28 songs you recognize from the regional premiere of “Rock of Ages” and how much nostalgia this lively production evokes will depend largely on where you were musically during the rebellious 1980s.


The jukebox musical offers audiences a mixed bag: seasoned actors caught up in a threadbare storyline.

The musical, making its regional premiere at Drury Lane Theatre, is based on a book by Chris D’Arienzo with arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp.

The musical pays obeisance to such legendary artists as Styx, Bon Jovi and REO Speedwagon and others.

Scott Weinstein’s superior cast is led by Russell Mernagh as Drew, an aspiring singer-songwriter; Cherry Torres as Sherrie, a wannabe actress; Gene Weygandt as Dennis, who owns a Sunset Boulevard club known as The Bourbon Room; Nick Druzbanski as Lonny, who oversees the club; and Adam Michaels as flamboyant rock star Stacee Jaxx. 

Weinstein’s direction gets strong support from his creative team that includes Stephanie Klemmons’ involving choreography; Roberta Duchak’s musical direction; and Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s scenic design. The team also includes Theresa Ham (costumes), Greg Hofmann (lighting), Ray Nardelli (sound) and Rasean Davonte Johnson (projection).

In a program note from the director, Weinstein remarks on the controversy that swirled around “Rock of Ages” and put nervous parents on red alert. “Tipper Gore held congressional hearings in reaction to ‘the corrupting nature’ of this music and formed the Parents Music Resource Center ... it released a list of 15 songs they found the most objectionable for supposedly promoting sex, drug use, the occult and violence.”

Even if you missed the boat on rock music from the late ‘80s, count on an enthusiastic onstage band led by Chris Sargeant to help fill the gap.


If you go

WHAT: “Rock of Ages”

WHEN: Through Oct. 15

WHERE: Drury Lane Theater, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace

COST: $45 to $60

iNFO: 630-530-0111 or

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