If you’re not ready to jump up on the stage and grab the microphone by the last song of Stage West’s Broadway rendition of Rock of Ages then I’m not sure you’re human because this show has it all; big hair, big egos, and one big party. Perhaps Sarah Horsma – who plays the vivacious Sherri – sums it up best.
“It’s just one of those infectious shows,” Horsman says, in reference to the music, which is a not so subtle nod to ‘80s big-hair-band music. There’s a plot, of course, but that doesn’t matter much when the music is this good. And even better since Horsman is no stranger to bringing ‘80s hits to life onstage; this is her third Stage West appearance centred around music from the ‘80s.
“With my family, classic rock was a big part of growing up for me. My parents got me to experience everything from jazz to the current stuff but yeah it was always a big thing. I feel like it’s one of my niche pockets as far as singing and music repertoire goes. I feel very comfortable in the 80’s realm – and it’s so much fun.”
Rock of Ages tells the story of Drew, a wannabe rocker working as a janitor in a dive bar on the Sunset Strip known as the Bourbon Room. Enter Sherrie, who has her own ambitions all the way from Kansas. Of course, Drew and Sherrie’s love story is interrupted with some real life drama as their duo try to pursue their dreams with a whole lot of big hair and big egos along the way. And don’t forget about standout Cary Shields, who plays the egotistical Stacee Jaxx, the lead singer of the rock band Arsenal. Hands up if this character reminds you a lot of Brett Michaels during this performance? But I digress.
Like me, you may have come for the music, but the story behind this production resonates with almost anyone in the audience who has followed their ambitions.
“I think everyone can relate to being a pursuer of their dreams and wanting to follow them to their full potential to see where things go,” Horsman says.
As her own story goes, she’s from a small town on Vancouver Island and has spent years chasing her dreams across the country, all the way to Toronto where she has lived on and off for the last five years.
“Especially in the arts community, I think a lot of us can identify with Sherrie and Drew’s story in the sense that they can’t keep us from doing anything else until we run to the fullest extent of our ability towards the place where there is an opportunity to live out what we feel in our heart the most.”
And… we can’t forget the music.
You’ve got all of the favourites in one place with the show that will have you tapping your feet and smiling across the table.
Foreigner. Check. Journey. Got it! Pat Benatar. That’s a resounding yes! But there is so… much… more. You’ll definitely hear some old favourites at this show that will speak to everyone across the age spectrum, says Horsman.
“I feel like with this show, it can speak to so many different age groups and I think it’s going to bring in another side of an audience that doesn’t normally come out to Stage West shows, which is really fun because it opens it up to different people.”
A show this big needs a big cast with big voices and it delivers in spades. I can’t speak highly enough of Stage West’s Rock of Ages and if you plan on going, let me know because I might join you! But I can’t promise we won’t be hitting the karaoke bar after to belt out some Journey.
It runs until June 25 at Stage West, with lots of opportunities to grab a bite to eat and have a good time before then. Don’t miss this one if you can help it.