Rock of Ages: High School Edition by Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, NJ
March 28, 2018
Review submitted by Varun Andrews of Bordentown Regional High School
Rock n’ Roll glorified, strengthened, and revolutionized music with some of its greatest hits coming out in the 1980’s. Luckily, those beloved hits were brought back to the forefront in Eastern Regional High School’s spectacular production of Rock of Ages.
With music from world-renowned bands like Bon Jovi, Journey, and Whitesnake, Rock of Ages: High School Edition transports audiences to the journey of a community’s struggle to save rock n’ roll while balancing the inevitable love story between a wannabe rock star and an aspiring actress. This jukebox musical ran on Broadway for over 2,300 performances, became a five -ime Tony nominee and a hit in the hearts and minds of its audiences.
From start to finish, Eastern Regional High School managed to keep the energy high and never skipped a beat. Especially with a fast-paced musical like Rock of Ages, the cast as a whole should be given tremendous credit for making a difficult feat look simple.
Leading the production as Sherrie Christian, Lauren Cianfrani showcased her incredible vocals and amazing acting skills. Transitioning from a small-town girl to an exotic dancer, Cianfrani tapped into the hardships of such a large shift, adding to her character’s complexity and naivety. Narrating the story and providing comic relief throughout the show, Lonny Barnett, played by Vincent Melara, owned the stage by displaying a certain charisma only seen in professional theater.
A performance that cannot go unmentioned was the one displayed by Jake Fritz in his role of charismatic rock star, Stacee Jaxx. Fritz’s masterful vocals coupled with his priceless sense of humor allowed him to be a favorite among audience members. Franz Klinemann who was played by Primo Davis, stole the show with his excellent comedic timing and masterful stage presence, especially in the song, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. It was clear that Davis was comfortable in his character through his excellent physical presence.
The technical aspects of the production were the hidden stars though, as their fascinating set built by Chris Childs, Cyrena Kokolis,and Aaron Forsman took audiences back to the 80’s and provided a classic concert feel. This was supported by the fact that the hair and makeup of every single character was executed with attention to detail and a desire to be authentic. To add, the lighting throughout the show was exceptional, complementing all if not most scenes perfectly, and taking the production to greater heights.
With an energetic ensemble, vibrant vocals, and exceptional chemistry, Eastern Regional High School’s production of Rock of Ages: High School Edition produced zeal that would only be matched at a rock concert.
Review submitted by Emily Thompson of Baldwin School
“Don’t stop believing” in the power of rock and roll and its influences on people and love. Eastern Regional High School proved just that in their performance this past weekend of Rock of Ages: High School Edition, written by Chris D’Arienzo.
The story follows the love lives of Sherrie Christian (Lauren Cianfrani), a wide-eyed actress from Kansas, and Drew Boley (Jordan Edmondson), an employee at the Bourbon Room and rock artist. With distractions from their narrator, Lonny Barnett (Vincent Melara), and a player who breaks Sherrie’s heart, Stacee Jaxx (Jake Fritz), the two lovers spend both acts making their way towards each other in the midst of the chaos of the Sunset Strip.
Overall, the show was supported by the high energy of the female members of the ensemble and the narrator, Lonny Barnett. With the added element of the detail-oriented set of the Bourbon Room, the show certainly carried the caricature of the 80s from beginning to end.
From the moment he literally jumped on stage, Vincent Melara possessed an unparalleled energy, providing extreme comedy in his physicality, facial expressions, and tone, particularly in “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Meanwhile, Sherrie Christian (Lauren Cianfrani) brought a beautifully powerful voice to the stage, adding a country twang to the rock-and-roll sounds to showcase her Kansas roots in songs like “Harden My Heart/Shadows of the Night” and “Hate Myself for Lovin’ You.”
Stacee Jaxx (Jake Fritz) captured the essence of a stereotypical rock artist in everything from his physicality to his tone. Meanwhile, Anita Bath (Lindsay Cohen) executed a powerful and comedic performance of a Berkley-educated protestor.
The set of the Bourbon Room was practically professional in its details, aesthetic, and functions. It expressed the identity of the 80s while providing levels and spaces for actors to use in original ways.
Carried on a wave of energy, Rock of Ages: High School Edition demonstrated the power of rock and roll and, more importantly, the power of the committed and energetic cast from Eastern Regional High School.