By Richard Schultz, June 2016 Issue.
Arizona Broadway Theatre, the Valley’s premier dinner theater, takes a break from traditional Broadway fare and delves into the world of rock ‘n’ roll with its production of Rock of Ages from May 27-June 19.
Set in LA’s infamous Sunset Strip in 1987, this show tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in LA to chase their dreams of making it big and falling in love. Their rock ‘n’ roll fairytale is threatened when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled strip into just another capitalist strip mall.
Echo caught up with lead actor Seth Hunter (pictured), who plays Drew, a role originated on Broadway by fourth season “American Idol” finalist Constantine Maroulis.
Echo: You have been cast to play an iconic musical theater role. Have you seen, and are you influenced by, others who have played the same role?
Hunter: I have actually never seen Rock of Ages in person, but have heard the music from the musical and of course the original artists. I do draw a lot of inspiration from Constantine, the original Drew. He is the easiest to find on YouTube for reference and he just embodies what I believe the character needs to be successful.
Echo: What influences your character choices?
Hunter: Everyone actor has an inner rock star that just wants to break out and that has influenced my character choices. When I was younger, I had a dream to be in a boy band. I guess that would be the ‘90s version of this show. I draw a lot from how I felt back then. Drew is a wannabe rock star and transforms from his awkward self into a rock star.”
Echo: How have you prepared for the role?
Hunter: I am going into the rehearsal process with as much memorized as I can fit into my brain. It helps the rehearsal process move along and then I can focus on developing Drew as a character and not worry as much about what I am singing/saying next.
Echo: What is the greatest challenge for you in this role?
Hunter: By far, vocal stamina. I have been practicing a lot at home trying to figure out what the best way to sing a lot of the songs to have the rock feel and be able to sing the show eight times a week. That being said, rock and pop music are truly my bread and butter for singing. The stamina will come with rehearsals; so, I am not worried at all!
Echo: Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
Hunter: I love the part of the show where Drew finally finds his inspiration for why he writes songs. He sees Sherrie walk into the room and instantly is able to write a beautiful song about her, which is the song “Heaven.” It is just a beautiful moment that shows the power of love on music, which I believe is truly the heart and soul of rock and roll.
Echo: Why do you believe this musical speaks to audiences?
Hunter: The show is just a giant party. Who doesn’t love that? This show does a great job making people forget about their lives outside of the theater. It pulls them into this fantastic world by constantly breaking the fourth wall and keeping the audience on their toes and not allowing them just to observe the show from a distance, but to be a part of it.
Echo: What’s the message of the show?
Hunter: This show has a great message that says it doesn’t matter what other people think is best for you. We should not let other people dictate who we are. We all have the power to write our own story even if it seems like the end has already been written for us. We have to live life the way we believe that we are meant to.
Rock of Ages
May 27-June 19
Arizona Broadway Theatre
7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria
Tickets: $47.50-$81; 623-776-8400