ROCK SPRINGS – The songs of Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Whitesnake and other artists from the 80s scream out a story about rock star dreams in the Rock Springs High School production of “Rock of Ages.”
The tale takes place in Hollywood when neon colors and big hair took over the world.
Sherrie Christian, played by RSHS junior Emma Zanetti, left home to follow her dreams and meets Wolfgang Von Colt, played by RSHS junior Karson Hansen. Everything started out smoothly until a misunderstanding involving a famous rock star got in their way.
The stage in the theater at RSHS is turned into a mini rock arena as cast members play crazed fans for the four-member band playing rock anthems Generation X grew up with.
Mixing it up with energy, comedy and style, characters would express confusion, frustration and affection between songs.
Director Jacob Weber said he and Technical Director Rick Matlock wanted to bring a new style of music to the audience.
“It’s going to be a positive thing for the community because most of these folks are familiar with these songs and they’ll be really excited,” said Weber. “We just wanted to put on a real cool rock concert with the fog, cool lights and live music.”
This is Matlock’s second year at RSHS.
“I think I made it bigger than it should have been!” he chuckled. “I’m going to have to figure out how to build a bigger stage for next year!”
According to Matlock, having a live band on the stage was challenging for the directing crew at first since it has been over 20 years since they blended live music with a theater production.
“It’s 80s rock!” he exclaimed. “It will be a fun show.”
Weber officially became the RSHS drama instructor in January. He was the assistant director for “Little Shop of Horrors” last year. This is his first year directing a musical.
“The cast has been amazing,” he mentioned. “To have a cast that offers so much professionalism and heart – it’s just been a pleasure working with them.”
RSHS junior Jakob Burdette plays Lonny, the narrator. He has been acting since the seventh grade.
“I’m hoping the audience will feel nostalgic in a way,” Burdette shared. “And I hope this production just makes them happy.”
RSHS senior Cadence Ranger plays the laid-back bar owner, Dennis Dupree.
“I’m not used to playing a character from a totally different era but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Ranger. “I hope the audience will think it’s funny and enjoyable.”
“This is my first year as a drama student,” Hansen admitted. “I don’t want to say it’s overwhelming because I do practice some pressure management.
“It’s a lot of fun in a lot of ways.”
Zanetti says that it “feels really good” to be on the stage.
“I’ve been singing before I could talk,” she revealed. “Singing and acting is the perfect combination.
“I’ve been performing ever since I can remember.”
Brian Redmond, RSHS band instructor, coaches the drummer and three guitarists on stage.
“I was hesitantly excited to do it at first,” Redmond admitted. “It’s something I haven’t done since I’ve started teaching here and from what I heard it had been many years since they’ve worked a live band in a production.
“So I said, ‘Well, it will either go really, really well or it will go badly!’”
He added, “The kids are doing very well. They already have the experience for it from being in my guitar class and jazz band so I knew they can do it.”
At first, his students didn’t know how to react around the cast members as they started playing.
“It was a big shift for them,” he explained. “Seeing that kind of awakening from them as they realize they can have fun with it was amazing to see.
“At first, they were wondering if they can rock out to this. Now they’re having fun with it.”
The Rock Springs High School theater department will present “Rock of Ages” from Wednesday, April 13th to Friday, April 15th. The show starts at 7 p.m. The last two performances will take place on Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for students and seniors. Admission for adults is $10. Tickets will be available at the door.