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The ’80s power ballad is not dead. It’s waiting for you at Trustus’ ‘Rock of Ages’

“Rock of Ages” is playing through Saturday, July 1 at Trustus Theatre.
“Rock of Ages” is playing through Saturday, July 1 at Trustus Theatre. provided photo

The 1980s were a time of weird fashion, roller blades, glam hair and, most importantly, rock ’n’ roll.

Fueled by the launch of MTV in 1981 and CDs in 1982, hits by bands like Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake blasted out of speakers and into public consciousness. They also are packed into the play “Rock of Ages,” on stage at Trustus Theatre through Saturday, July 1.

The musical takes place at the Bourbon Room, a seedy bar on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Narrator Lonny Barnett works there with owner Dennis Dupree and busboy and aspiring rocker Drew Boley. With the Bourbon Room facing demolition, Dennis and Lonny hire the famous but unreliable rock star Stacee Jaxx to play on the club’s last night. Meanwhile, Drew is smitten with Sherrie Christian, a new arrival from Kansas who starts waitressing at Bourbon Room but dreams of becoming an actress.

If you’ve seen the movie version, note the play has less Tom Cruise but more laughs.

“The script is much funnier than the film. It plays much better on stage,” director Dewey Scott-Wiley said. “It’s a lot of pure, unadulterated fun and a lot of great music.”

Scott-Wiley, a Pat Benatar fan who saw the artist “at least eight times” in the ’80s, said she’s glad two Benatar songs, “Shadows in the Night” and “Hit Me With Your Best Show,” are featured in “Rock of Ages,” among many other can’t-help-but-sing-along power ballads.

“It’s a really, really clever work that strings all these ’80s songs together,” she said.

Below are more ’80s favorites from actors in the show:

Michael Hazin

Character: Lonny

Favorite song from show: “Nothing But a Good Time” by Poison. It’s all in the title. The song is nothing but a good time to perform and is a great way to open the show.

Favorite ’80s song: “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. It gets me in a good mood no matter what I’m doing.

Chad Henderson

Character: Dennis Dupree

Favorite song from the show: “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon. I love performing this song with Trustus Company member and castmate Michael Hazin. It’s a great comedic moment in the show that I think will have people rolling in the aisles.

Favorite ’80s song: “Purple Rain” by Prince. It’s hard to choose one song from a decade that created a lot of music that I love, but out of my collected favorites, this one stands out to me. It’s a modern classic by one of the 20th- and 21st-century music masters. I have been a Prince fan since I was in middle school, and when I hear this song, it reminds me of how iconic his music was and will continue to be.

Jason Stokes

Character: Stacee Jaxx

Favorite song from the show: “The Search Is Over” by Survivor. This is one of the first music videos I ever watched.

Favorite ’80s song: “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2. Blues, rock, heart, dreams, and love all rolled into one.

Kayla Cahill

Character: Regina

Favorite song from show: “Harden My Heart-Shadows of the Night” mashup, specifically the “Shadows of the Night” section. It’s just so much darn fun to sing!

Favorite ’80s song: I’m a Jersey girl, so it’s almost obligatory I answer with a Bruce song. I’ll go with “Dancing in the Dark.”

Katie Leitner

Character: Sherrie

Favorite song from the show: See below

Favorite ’80s song: “Open Arms” by Journey is one of my favorite songs from the decade. Two things you can’t deny: Steve Perry’s ability to write an awesome power rock ballad and his killer vocals. Luckily, “Rock of Ages” features two other Journey hits: “Any Way You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”

If you go

“Rock of Ages”

WHERE: Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St.

WHEN: Various times, through Saturday, July 1

COST: $35; $30, weekdays and matinees; $25, students

INFO: http://trustus.org/event/rock-of-ages