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‘Rock of Ages’ production to highlight many 1980’s rock anthems

The 1980s rock and sub-rock genres were full of gems that not only dominated the charts, but also ignited music fans with the power ballads and tunes that have now become rock classics. The upcoming musical production “Rock of Ages” will give ‘80s children the opportunity to relive this sensational time in music history or, for millennials, live it for the first time.

The UTEP Dinner Theatre is bringing in the new year with the same mantra that every society-spiting youth in a denim jacket was preaching by the time big hair and power chords had taken over the country. Rock ’n’ Roll is served large and loud with Chris D’Arienzo’s “Rock of Ages.”

Set in the infamous Sunset Strip of Los Angeles in 1987, the jukebox musical takes the audience back to when the gods of pop culture wore leather pants, tiger print and more hairspray in their hair than a sophomore at prom. That being said, the show guarantees that this production isn’t your grandmother’s “Sound of Music.”

With fist-pumpers like Starship’s “We Built This City” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” to power ballads like Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” director Greg Taylor sees no reason why the audience shouldn’t sing along during the show.

“They’re all hit songs,” Taylor said. “We expect the crowd to get involved.”

The musical entrenches itself so much in the era that it’s almost a sure bet you’ve sang the main story line at least once at karaoke night. Sherrie, played by Nabil Gonzalez, a senior music major, is just a small town girl. Drew, played by Jonathan Contreras, a sophomore pre-engineering major, is just a city boy born and raised in South Detroit (singing yet?). The two find each other in Hollywood’s biggest rock club, The Bourbon Room, and get caught in the swirl of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and the inevitable heartbreak that comes with the fame of the music industry.

“The show is like a concert,” said Lauren Pena, a junior English major who plays Regina. Her character is the activist who is against the yuppies trying to take down The Bourbon Room. “Usually, they orchestra is in their own place, but for this show, they are going to be characters in the show.”

Almost all of the songs in the production will be played on stage just the way Axel Rose himself would have wanted it. Electric guitars, drums and even male falsetto wails are in ample supply for every song you are bound to hear in the show.

“Rock of Ages” debuts Jan. 29 and will have performances running through Feb. 14.

The menu for the show includes grilled beef skirt steak with mushroom gravy, seasoned asparagus, mashed potatoes, garden salad with house dressing, rockin’ dinner rolls and iced tea. Friday and Saturday dinner performances are $46.50 for adults, $44.50 for children four to twelve years old. UTEP faculty and staff tickets are $44.50. UTEP student tickets are $34.50 and non-UTEP student tickets are $44.50. Military tickets are $44.50 with valid military identifiction card. For all ticket prices and dates, visit or call 747-6060.

Mike Vasquez may be reached at [email protected]

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‘Rock of Ages’ production to highlight many 1980’s rock anthems