Rock of Ages may not be your typical musical theatre fare, but for actor Chris Sams that is what makes the show so appealing.
“People are singing, clapping and dancing in the aisles,” Sams said by phone from Regina. “It isn’t a time for you to sit on your hands; it is an opportunity to really participate in what you are watching.”
While that audience participation is encouraged, it did take Sams and his cast some getting used to. During one memorable performance in New York a number of female audience members, perhaps in an effort to re-create the iconic 1980s Courtney Cox moment when she was pulled onstage to dance with Bruce Springsteen, found their way on stage for the final number.
“It wasn’t something that had ever happened before in my theatre career but we just went with it,” said Sams. “Really it wasn’t that difficult though when we saw the real joy that it was bringing to these women.”
But before one gets the idea that Rock of Ages is perhaps intended for a female audience, Sams claims the show has just as much appeal to men.
“The men in the audience are there enjoying themselves too,” said Sams. “They are not there out of any sort of obligation and that is just awesome.”
At times more rock concert than theatre and definitely not taking itself ever too seriously, Rock of Ages tells the story of a young couple looking for success in the world of 80s rock and roll. Helping to tell that story is a collection of classic rock hits from Twisted Sisters’ We’re Not Gonna Take It to Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot plus songs from Journey, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Bon Jovi and more.
Born in 1979 and too young to have fully appreciated the music at the time, Sams credits the show’s directors and choreographers in helping him and the other cast members find their footing in the decade.
“We have a creative team that is in super love with the 80s,” said Sams. “Our directors and choreographers have such a love affair with this decade that when we were at a moment of confusion or uncertainty [during rehearsals] they helped anchor us in making the right decision.”
With a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones to be released in June, Sams isn’t worried about it taking away any potential audience for the tour.
“[With our show] you get the original production as it was meant to be seen by an audience. The energy of the stage version is going to be totally different than anything you could ever expect to see in a movie,” enthused Sams. “We’re going to rock your socks off. Live!”
Rock of Ages
The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts
8 – 13 May 2012
Tickets are available by calling 1-855-985-5000 or online.