Only blocks from where it started 14 years ago — before embarking on a journey through several thousand shows on Broadway, a Tom Cruise movie, international recreations and a cruise-ship concert — the “Rock of Ages” stage musical returned to the heart of Hollywood on Wednesday for a preview showing.
With two “Rock of Ages” Broadway alumni, Nick Cordero and Frankie Grande, reprising their roles, this latest incarnation of the ’80s hair metal tribute show pulls from some of the Broadway version’s creative production team, including producers Matt and Hillary Weaver and Janet Billig Rich and director Kristin Hanggi.
“The creators are from L.A., the story is L.A. The vibe is L.A. and Hollywood,” Cordero, who plays Dennis, told Variety after Wednesday’s “Rock of Ages” performance. “That’s the aspect of the project that initially attracted me. Matt Weaver, the producer, called me in New York and said, ‘Will you come and do this?’ It’s an immersive production in his hometown, which struck me as an interesting idea.”
Zach Braff, GloZell Green, Darren Criss and Marissa Jaret Winokur were among the celebrity attendees at Wednesday’s full-house performance of “Rock of Ages.” Braff co-starred with Cordero on the “Rock of Ages” star’s 2014 Tony-nominated turn in “Bullets Over Broadway.”
In 2005, “Rock of Ages” premiered at King King on Hollywood Blvd., before heading to Broadway in 2009. And now, the musical tribute has resurfaced at a converted space on Hollywood Blvd. formerly occupied by Cinespace. The nightclub-combination-theater is called The Bourbon Room, a reference to the bar in “Rock of Ages.” During the show, audience members seated at tables in the front of the venue are thrust into the recreated Bourbon Room, as performers run around them belting out ’80s tunes.
Callandra Olivia, who plays the lead Sherrie Christian, told Variety that she was impressed that elements of the Broadway version of “Rock of Ages” were transplanted to L.A.
“First and foremost, I had no idea that Broadway would ever come to Hollywood in this way,” Olivia said. “A sit-down theater being completely built, Broadway creative team, the full works. So to have it come out to L.A., not thinking that was even possible, and now starring to be in this, is surreal.”
One of the new show’s more recognizable faces, Grande, plays Franz Klinemann, as he did when he joined the Broadway production of “Rock of Ages” in 2014. Following his performance, Grande told Variety that showing his stage chops is a welcome departure from his online and broadcast celebrity persona.
“It’s interesting because I’m so known for my personality, reality TV, social media and YouTube,” Grande said. “Then, when people discover that I started off talented, that it all came from talent, they’re always like, ‘What? We had no idea you could sing, dance and act.’ It’s so wonderful to be able to share that, because that’s my true passion. I love sharing my personality with the world, don’t get me wrong. When I get to share my art with the world, it’s why I’m here, it’s why I’m on this planet.”
Other cast members performing Wednesday included Matt Wolpe, Sean Yves Lessard, Ian Ward, Regina Levert, Stefan Raulston, Pat Towne, Marisa Matthews, Tiffany Mallari, Justin Ray, Chuck Saculla, Zoe Unkovich, Jonathan Quesenberry, Pat Lukin, Stephanie Renee Wall, Maddox, Greg Coates and Kevin Kapler.