On intangible time machine plays a big role in the Broadway musical "Rock of Ages."
From the cranking out of '80s rock songs such as Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and Styx's "Renegade" to audience members joining in the fun with teased hair and neon garb, the five-time Tony Award nominee brings the '80s back to the present with a bang.
As part of the national tour "Rock of Ages" will hit the stage with a one-night only performance next week at Eisenhower Auditorium.
Cast members of the national touring production of “Rock of Ages” perform “Just Like Paradise/Nothing But a Good Time.”
The show is making its way back to the Penn State stage for a second time "because of audience appeal. People were excited to see it again," said Center for the Performing Arts Director of Marketing Laura Sullivan.
"Rock of Ages" star Shannon Mullen, who plays Sherrie in the national tour, said the show gets the memories flowing.
"I would say the '80s were a time of people branching out and trying to find their own individual styles, which is why it was over the top," she said. "It's like this heightened reality that people lived in, but they believed in it and ... when they come to see 'Rock of Ages' it brings back a lot of nostalgia, not only with the music but with our costumes, with our wigs, with the makeup that we wear. When I first came out and my uncle came to see the show he was like, 'Yep, you're dressed exactly like your aunt was when I first met her.'"
If you go
What: "Rock of Ages"
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Eisenhower Auditorium on the Penn State University Park campus
Tickets: $62, $53, adults; $44, $35, University Park students; $45, $36, 18 and younger. The musical has adult themes and language and might not be appropriate for those ages 14 and younger.
Mullen spoke to the Mirror over the phone last week from Gainesville, Fla., where the tour was kicking off its opening night for a third year. She said the story line is simple with the audience able to predict the outcome, "but they love the music so much and they love how funny the story is that everybody comes and has a great time listening to it."
"Rock of Ages," set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip, is a love story between small-town girl Sherrie, who moves to Los Angeles to make it as a big star, and, rocker Drew.
It debuted on Broadway in 2007, and is one of the top 50 longest-running Broadway shows currently in New York, Mullen said.
"It's the experience of a lifetime," she said of taking part in such a production. "I count my blessings every single day, because not only do I get to do this amazing show that's so much fun, so much energy, with the best audiences possible, but I've met a lot of strong actors along the way. I've met so many great people to work with and I've learned a lot about myself and about performing, and it's just really been a whirlwind of positive things."
Mullen said while her favorite songs to perform do change, two of her top contenders are Foreigner's "Waiting For a Girl Like You," which she performs with Drew, and "Don't Stop Believing," which, "is the song that everybody looks forward to in the show and it just never loses energy, it never loses its charm. The lyrics are still just amazing and we all have a blast doing that every night," she said.
Mullen said the show "is a guy's musical," that is "so rock and edgy, and it just brings a different group of people into that musical theater world, which I think is such a great thing."
"Rock of Ages" first hit the Eisenhower stage in 2012, when "it sold really well and people loved it and want it to come back because they said if they come a second time they'll be more excited to bring out their '80s garb and dress in style and do the whole big hair and the whole nine yards," Sullivan said.
Some of those in attendance two years ago did just that, making "for a real party atmosphere and a lot of fun," she said. "I was a teen in the '80s and I loved this performance. I loved the music and it was kind of fun to relive that."
Getting the audience to relive those memories is on their to do list, Mullen said.
"You know there's a reason that we're staying really true in the costumes and the hair to that time period," she said. "We do it as though we're not making fun of a time period, but we're actually paying a tribute to it. We don't take ourselves too seriously. We know how over the top and ridiculous it is and we let the audience know that and so they become a part of the joke. They become a part of the show."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.