- Cindi Sansone-Braff
Smithtown Matters: Rock Out with Engeman Theater’s Riotous Rock of Ages
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Written by Cindi Sansone-Braff
If you’re looking for a grown-up, fun night out, where you can rip loose with plenty of non-stop music, dancing, and laughter, then head on down to The John W. Engeman Theater and check out ROCK OF AGES, which runs through Sunday, March 13, 2022. Judging by the roaring standing ovation Saturday night’s performance received, a rollicking good time was had by all.
This Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical, written by Chris D’Arienzo, combines a romantic storyline, plenty of ribald humor, and a retro score of classic 1980s rock anthems and ballads featuring hit songs from Journey, Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, and Whitesnake. However, it is the show-stopping vocals, sensational dance numbers choreographed by the very talented Natalie Malotke, and Kurt Alger’s fabulous costumes and big poofy wigs that all came together to make this show a winner.
The live band, an integral part of this jukebox musical, was top-notch, so a big shout-out goes to Jeff Cox, Peter Scoma, Jerry Kops, Teddy Motz, and Josh Endlich for their efforts.
Under the talented direction of Igor Goldin, the energetic, vibrant cast gave it their all. This polished production truly captured the “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” frenzy that characterized the tail end of the ’80s, referred to as the “Decade of Greed.” What is so remarkable about this musical, set against the backdrop of LA’s Sunset Strip, is that each ensemble member gets to have their moment in the spotlight.
The multi-talented Dan Hoy flawlessly portrayed Drew, the localBailee Endebrock (Sherrie) bartender desperate to make it as a rock star. Bailee Endebrockis unforgettable as Sherrie, Drew’s love interest and an aspiring actress hellbent on becoming famous. Ms. Endebrock is a triple threat with her stellar singing, acting, and dancing skills. There was great onstage chemistry between Drew and Sherrie, especially in the steamier scenes. They both gave heartrending performances during the moving romantic number “The Search Is Over.”
Matt DaSilva plays Lonny, the buffoonish narrator, who is on stage throughout most of the show. To pull off this role, an actor must display boundless energy, have an innate sense of comedic timing, and possess an over-abundance of charisma. Mr. DaSilva doesn’t disappoint since he is an indubitable dynamo.
Erik Schark rocks the part of Dennis, the stoner-owner of the iconic Bourbon Room, located on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. Mr. Schark and Mr. DaSilva displayed their strong vocals and physical comedy skills during their riotously funny rendition of “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” The audience howled with laughter as the song came to a saucy climax involving Lonny, Dennis, and a fog machine.
Franz Klinemann, played to perfection by Sean Widener, is the sycophant son of a German developer who wants to turn the Sunset Strip into a giant strip mall. Ryan M. Hunt is terrific as Hertz Klinemann, the cold, calculating, uptight businessman and father, who revealed his softer side when he crooned REO Speedwagon’s beloved rock ballad “Keep On Loving You.”
Daria Pilar Redus gave a riveting performance as Regina, whoBailee Endebrock (Sherrie) and Dan Hoy (Drew) pronounces her name so that it rhymes with, Oh, never mind, see the show, and find out for yourself what the raunchy rhyme is.
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is the song that launches the pivotal scene in the show when the mealy-mouthed Franz makes a 180-degree turn letting it all hang out to join forces with the unstoppable Regina. Their hilarious performance during this show-stealing scene is worth the price of the ticket!
Nick Bernardi was captivating and convincing as Stacee Jaxx, the egotistical, womanizing, smitten-with-himself rock star. The dirty bathroom scene at the Bourbon Club, involving Stacee and Sherrie, had just the right amount of naughty humor and earthy pathos to make it ring true. Both these actors showed off their powerhouse vocals as they sang their hearts out to “I Want to Know What Love Is,” accompanied by a heartbroken Drew and the rest of the outstanding Company.
Renee Titus as Justice, the kind-hearted owner of the Gentlemen’s Club, brought richness and depth to this stereotypical character. Ms. Titus also displayed her killer vocals throughout the show. The first-rate ensemble includes Natalie Nicole Bellamy, Tiger Brown, Gary Paul Bowman, Sean William Fleming, Laura Guley, Christian Maxwell Henry, James Garrett Hill, Jaelle Ashley Laguerre, Kenneth D. Washington, and Jessica White.
Risqué, ridiculous, and outright raunchy at times, Rock of Ages is a riotous romp through the extravagance and excess of the Reagan-era 1980s that will have you rocking out in your seat.
Tickets may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at
Matt DaSilva (Lonny), Erik Schark (Dennis), Dan Hoy (Drew)
www.EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.