Juke Box musical sizzles with explosive talent

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By Bob Evans

Expect to rock and party when attending The Barn Players newest production “Rock of Ages,” the musical based on the music of the 1980s, blasts mega-hit after mega-hit with only a slim story line to piece them together.

The Arts Asylum hosts the festivities for The Barn’s current production that features rock-solid vocals from a cast of super-talents who discovered the perfect platform to showcase their vocal skills. Be amazed as each of the soloists cuts loose with the rock genre of the period and deliver blockbuster songs that continue to entertain audiences. “Rock of Ages” makes the audience want to flick their bics because it’s like a concert atmosphere more than a Broadway musical.

“Rock of Ages” allows some KC’s best young talent to belt out rock songs so different from the styles usually found in a Broadway musical. What a great idea so showcase some rock classics and spin them into a show. Just look at the song list to get an idea of what to expect. The songs include: Cum on Feel the Noize,” “Just Like Paradise,” “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” “Sister Christian,” “We Built This City,” “Too Much Time on My Hands” “I Wanna Rock,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “More Than Words,” “Heaven,” “To Be With You,” “Waiting For a Girl Like You,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Renegade,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Harden My Heart,” “Shadows of The Night,” “Here I Go Again,” The Final Countdown,” “Any Way You Want It,” “High Enough,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” “Heat of The Moment,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “I Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Keep on Loving You,” “Oh, Sherrie,” “The Search Is Over,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” and a couple of other hits.

The hits just keep on coming in this musical buffet, and that’s great because the story and plot do not make a lot of sense. A love story between Sherrie and Wolfgang keeps getting interrupted. A farewell performance by a rock star hopes to save a club from a big business that wants to tear down and rebuild something new and modern. A group of protesters want to stand against the establishment while a sleazy foreigner bribes the city’s mayor with promises of a new, modern development. And, somehow, we get an actress who must work as a stripper to make ends meet. The story is disconnected and flimsy, but provides a great way to link the songs together.

The script is weak, but the combination of the music and script make the show work, Actually, the show worked so well that it racked up over 2,500 performances, running several years.

For this show, expect to see some great singing and performing by Paul Brennan III, Scott Salem, Taylor Jennings, Trevor French, Jeff Smith, Ashley Jones, and Chelsea Anglemyer. Their voices made the show super enjoyable as they belted their songs while a bevy of supporting actors and dancers helped create more magic. The choreography of Evan Lovelace moved and helped with the focus of this piece.

Brennan serves as the narrator and his enthusiasm and character talks to the audience and his appearances keep the show knitted together. Jeff Smith plays an over the top “Axel Rose” type character with an ego problem. Taylor Jennings’ voice will amaze the audience. She’s wonderful.

Opening night felt electric as the cast definitely was ready for an audience. They all projected and reached out to the audience and encouraged hand clapping and interaction. The actors seemed to draw the audience into the show alongside them and engage them in the music. The show is definitely a party.

The cast is: Scott Salem, Paul Brennan III, Taylor Jennings, Trevor French, Jeff Smith, Ashley Jones, Dave Fullerton, Jacob Elliott, Chelsea anglemyer, Brent Custer, Tyler Rene Harper, Michael Golliher, Mikeala Carson, TJ Warren, Jennifer Abate, Christa James, Angela Murphy, Sabrina Steward, Stephanie Palmer, Miles Wirth. They all gave solid performances.

The production crew is Eric Magnus, director; Michelle Allen McIntire, vocal director; Blake Vignery, music director; Evan Lovelace, choreography; Shelly Stewart, assistant director; Rebekah Grieb, stage manager; Chuck Cline, lighting design; Sean Lestico, sound design; Amanda Albert, properties design, Fran Kapono-Kuzila, costume design; Doug Schroeder, set design; Bill Wright, set construction; Doug Schroeder, set construction; Chris Palmer, set construction; John Hollan, hair and makeup design; Kathryn Sanders, lighting assistant/spotlight; Todd Gregory Gibbs and Michelle Allen McIntire, rehearsal accompanists; Alex Morales, graphic design.

The band is: Jeremiah Lossa, lead guitar; Bill Wood, rhythm guitar; Frank Annecchini, bass guitar; Todd Gregory-Downs, keyboard; Blake Vignery, drums.

“Rock of Ages” runs Nov. 8-18 at The Arts Asylum in Kansas City, Missouri. Evening performances begin at 7:30p.m. Matinees begin at 2p.m. For more information check The Barn Players website.
Tags: Rock of Ages, The Barn Players, The Arts Asylum, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

Images courtesy of Bob Evans, The Barn Players and Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

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