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Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas brings the Sunset Strip to life with “Rock of Ages” musical

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) is preparing for an exhilarating rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza with its summer musical production, “Rock of Ages.” Scheduled for July 28-30, 2023, the show promises an electrifying experience, and tickets are now available for purchase. The production proudly enjoys the sponsorship of Simmons Bank.

Lindsey Collins, ASC’s theater programs director, expressed her enthusiasm for the show, stating, “If you lived through the ’80s and appreciate hair band music, this is an absolute must-see.” Collins, who serves as both the show’s director alongside assistant director Joel Anderson and as a cast member, mentioned the engaging nature of the performance. She emphasized that the audience is encouraged to participate by singing along during significant musical moments. Collins also encouraged attendees to embrace the spirit of the ’80s by donning appropriate fashion attire.

“Rock of Ages,” written by Chris D’Arienzo, with arrangement and orchestration by Ethan Popp, showcases over 30 popular rock anthems and power ballads from the ’80s. Set against the backdrop of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip at the close of the 1980s, the jukebox musical includes iconic hits from renowned bands such as Poison, Bon Jovi, and Whitesnake.

ASC’s Catherine M. Bellamy Theater has undergone a remarkable transformation for this production, featuring its most substantial set in years. The stage now represents Dupree’s Bourbon Room, a music venue with a seedy charm. Run by the laid-back former rock impresario Dennis Dupree (portrayed by Matt Soto) and assisted by the mischievous Lonny (played by Lindsey Collins), the Bourbon Room encapsulates the essence of rock and roll.

The storyline follows the arrival of Sherrie (Maegan Hickerson), an optimistic young talent, who encounters Drew (Travis Mosler), a barback with dreams of rock stardom. Drew, smitten by love, convinces Dennis to hire Sherrie, setting the stage for a potential romance. However, the Bourbon Room’s existence faces jeopardy when a German development company, represented by Hertz (Keiren Minter) and his son, Franz (J. Tyler Lewis), seeks to transform the Sunset Strip into a mundane strip mall. The dedicated staff and loyal patrons of the Bourbon Room must rally together to save their cherished establishment.

The cast includes Paige Boast, Savannah Boyd, Emily Burris, Grace Coleman, Jenna Gieringer, Angelica Glass, Sidney Locke, Jazmine Nguyen, Matthew Nguyen, Briar Thompson, Raymond Wallace, and Will Witt, delivering captivating performances on stage. Adding to the experience, the show features a live band comprising Chris Moore on drums, Woody Walters on lead guitar, Darrell Davis on guitar, Robert “Robbie” English II on bass, and Bethany Gere on keyboard.

Joel Anderson, the show’s assistant director, highlighted the unique appeal of having live music on stage, stating, “It has been quite some time since we had live music accompanying a musical here at the center. This is an additional incentive for the audience to come and enjoy the performance.”

Moreover, this production marks the debut of the Bellamy Theater’s new sound system, replacing outdated equipment dating back to the building’s construction in 1994. Collins expressed gratitude towards the generous donations from The Kline Family Foundation, Express Personnel, Robinson Fuller Funeral Homes, and the contributions made during the Potpourri fundraising campaign in late 2022. She remarked, “Thanks to these donations, we were able to completely renovate and upgrade our sound system. Equipped with new speakers, microphones, and a state-of-the-art digital soundboard, ‘Rock of Ages’ serves as the perfect showcase for our improved equipment.”

It is essential to note that “Rock of Ages” contains mature themes, sexual innuendo, adult language, and situations. Collins recommended exercising caution when purchasing tickets for audience members under the age of 16, as theater productions lack a formal rating system comparable to that of television and movies. She further explained that the upcoming 2024 season will provide numerous opportunities for younger performers and audience members, emphasizing the current show’s focus on older teens and adults.

The performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 28 and 29, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 30. The shows will take place at ASC’s main building located at 701 S. Main St. Following the July 28 performance, a reception will be held, and audience members attending the show that evening are cordially invited to attend. The reception is generously sponsored by M.K. Distributors and ASC theater volunteers.

Tickets are available for $20 for ASC members and seniors (65 years and older), while non-members can purchase tickets for $25. To secure tickets, interested individuals can visit asc701.org/theater/rock-of-ages or call 870-536-3375.

 

Nathan Kim

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