When Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) artistic director Dan Knechtges visualizes the 2021-2022 season, his excitement is evident. “Coming back to the stage, while we’re still in a pandemic is amazing, and it is also really challenging,” he tells Houstonia.
TUTS kicked off their season this week with Rock of Ages. Written by Chris D'Arienzo, the jukebox show features music from Styx, Pat Benatar, Journey, Steve Perry, Twisted Sister and more. Squeezing power ballads and hair-band jams together, Rock of Ages is the story of an aspiring rocker named Drew who toils as a janitor in a club on the Sunset Strip. The main character wants the bright lights of fame and fortune – and of course, for a small-town girl named Sherrie to fall for him. But all of it is threatened, when a developer comes in and wants to raze the club.
Laced with 1980s nostalgia, the push-pull between Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” and the anthem of “don’t stop believin’,” this is a show that ought to prove irresistible. To anyone who lived through that totally awesome era of leg warmers, banana clips and Members Only jackets; this show is for you.
“It’s fun, it’s full of nostalgia, and it’s one of those musicals that is meant to just be entertaining,” says Knechtges. “It is a great show to kick off our season and our coming back to the stage after being away for so long because it’s a celebration. It will have you dancing in your seat.”
The show ran for more than 2,300 performances on Broadway, with the New York Times’ Charles Isherwood calling it an “absurdly enjoyable arena-rock musical.” It was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and would go on to be made into a film with a cast that included Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
“Jukebox musicals, the really good ones, feature music that the audience already knows and likely already love,” Knechtges explains. He’s betting that audiences are more than ready to party and knows this is a great vehicle for it. “They evoke feelings and memories from good times in your life, which is what we all need right now. They’re also all puzzles in a way, figuring out where the songs will fit into the story, and then it’s a delight when you hear it.”
So, go pull that taffeta prom dress or those parachute pants out of the back of your closet; tease that hair high, and get ready for a night on the town.
For more information and tickets, visit here.