REVIEW: Rock of Ages

Arts Club Rock Musical is glamorous fun

Review of Rock of Ages plays the Granville Island Stage until July 30 - Photo: Emily Cooper featured on

Rock of Ages plays the Granville Island Stage until July 30 – Photo: Emily Cooper

Review by Max D’Ambrosio

A small town girl, a city boy. In a seedy Los Angeles rock-and-roll bar, in the mid-to-late 80s, a story unfolds that’s big, loud, and comfortingly familiar.

Vancouver Arts Club’s staging of Rock of Ages is a lot like snorting a drug that directly stimulates the part of your brain associated with nostalgia. Even if you’re only the child of a child of the 80s, there are surely at least one or two songs for you to sing along with.

Catchy Score

Although the score helmed by musical director Sean Bayntun is catchy with a great period feel, it’s also a bit inconsistent. Some lines, both spoken and sung, are difficult to make out over the raucous rock music. Fortunately, this is not a crucial flaw, since the musical’s plot and the dialogue are intentionally painted in broad strokes.

Director and choreographer Peter Jorgensen’s playful use of movie, musical, and music video tropes propels the plot into deliciously cheesy territory. Nowhere is this more evident than in the characters. The cast is uniformly larger-than-life, in keeping with the spirit of the era. Everyone has their moments, but some could use a little more polish on their 80s mannerisms.

Real Passion

On the other hand, most of the performances are also charged with real passion, especially the young hero Drew (Kale Penny) and heroine Sherrie (Marlie Collins). The pair’s singing voices are impressive, boasting stamina, strength, and technique. The rest of the cast can match their staying power, but only occasionally approach their volume and skill.

The Bottom Line

A dynamic set design (Marshall McMahen) and raunchy costumes (Jessica Bayntun) deliver a heartwarming story in a razzle-dazzling package. Come ready to lift up your devil horns and rock along; Rock of Ages is glamorous fun.

Rock of Ages
The Arts Club Granville Island Stage
Until July 30
Purchase tickets



Rock of Ages

Cast: Sean Bayntun , John Bews, Lauren Bowler, Aadin Church, Graham Coffeng, Marlie Collins, Nick Fontaine, Paige Fraser, Brett Harris, Hugh Macdonald, Kieran Martin Murphy, Kale Penny, Adriana Ravalli, Katrina Reynolds, Mark Richardson and Robbie Towns.

Production: Peter Jorgensen  – Director/Choreographer, Sean Bayntun – Musical Director, Marshall McMahen – Set Designer, Jessica Bayntun  – Costume Designer, Robert Sondergaard – Lighting Designer, Brad Danyluk – Sound Designer, Courtney Shields – Assistant to the Director, Pamela Jakobs – Stage Manager, Anne Taylor – Assistant Stage Manager, Jenny Kim – Apprentice Stage Manager.

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