The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Rock of Ages 

When: Jan. 12 through Feb. 3; showtimes are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., with an additional show on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. 
Where: The Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester 
Tickets: $39 to $46 for adults and $25 for children ages 6 through 12. 
More info:, 668-5588

Rocking out
The Palace Theatre goes ’80s with Rock of Ages

By Angie Sykeny

 Big hair, epic rock anthems and a bit of dirty humor is what you can expect in the Palace Theatre’s latest production, Rock of Ages, which opens Friday, Jan. 12.

The musical homage to ’80s glam rock opened on Broadway in 2009 and features 28 classic hits by Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison and other music icons. It tells the story of a “small town girl” named Sherrie and a “city boy from South Detroit” named Drew who go looking for fame and fortune in Hollywood but end up finding love. 
“There’s a line at the end of the show,” Palace Theatre artistic director Carl Rajotte said. “‘The dreams you come in with may not be the dreams you leave with, but they still rock.’ That’s exactly what the show is about: two people with dreams who get distracted along the way by finding each other.” 
The Palace Theatre had its Rock of Ages premiere two years ago “with a small budget, and without expecting too much,” Rajotte said, so it came as a surprise when the show drew full houses and became one of the theater’s best-selling shows of all time. Popular demand brought it back this year as many people reached out to the Palace requesting that it produce the show again. 
It can be difficult to revive a show and match or top its first run, especially when it received so much positive feedback, Rajotte said. That’s why he made the decision to bring back the same cast. All but four of the Palace’s original cast members are performing in this year’s production. 
“I didn’t even have to convince them,” he said. “They had such a great time with the first show, so they were really excited to come back and do it again.” 
One of the returning actors is Anthony Nuccio, who plays Drew. Prior to performing in the Palace’s production, Nuccio performed in Rock of Ages on a cruise ship. Even though he has experience with the show, he has plenty to do to prepare, particularly with the music, which requires him to belt some long and high-pitched notes in the ’80s glam rock vocal style.  
“The music is so over-the-top and fun,” Nuccio said. “If you’re in the show, you have to like the genre. I bleed classic rock of the ’70s and ’80s. That’s my style, so I love doing it, but you definitely need to train your voice to sing like that.” 
Another returning actor is Andrew Sklar, who plays the show’s cheeky narrator, Lonny. Sklar played the role in various Rock of Ages productions for six years. Lonny’s character is unique in that he often breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the audience throughout the show. 
“By the middle of Act II, Lonny has set up a rapport with the audience where they start to understand that this isn’t a sit-and-watch-people-perform-at-us show; they can get up and sing along,” he said. “By the end of the show, when we do ‘Don’t Stop Believin,’’ most of the theater is standing, and everyone goes crazy.” 
There are some technical and timing challenges that come with doing a show that invites audience engagement, Rajotte said, but the cast and crew are fully prepared to handle those challenges now that they know what to expect. 
“This show more than any other show I’ve done has an audience response which I did not plan for at first,” he said. “I had no idea that it would be more like a participation show, where people would be coming dressed in their ’80s attire and big hair and singing every lyric of every song, but now that we know it’s happening, it’s going to be fun.”

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