Bon Jovi, Journey and STYX rocked the 1980s with a huge sound, poufy hair and leather jackets. Even if you weren’t born during the era of excess, you still probably know all the words to songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Since the decade is ripe with trademark style, it’s an easy pick for a jukebox musical (real pop songs strung together to create a narrative and score). One of the newest of the bunch is Rock of Ages about a legendary rock club in danger of closing. It hit off Broadway’s New World Stages in October and has been amping up the scene ever since. To get inside what makes
the heart of the show groove, DS chatted with choreographer Kelly Devine. —LK
DS: How did you prepare to tackle a decade as vivid as the 1980s?
KD: I did tons of research! Thankfully, you can find any song or clip on the internet now. Plus I grew up in L.A. in the ‘80s—we would go to Tower Records and you could make your own mix tape! So I used inspiration from my own experiences, too. And, in contrast to right now, when movement for R&B artists like Chris Brown is so intricate and slick— ‘80s movement was really big and I’m pulling from that super-high energy.
DS: What is the vibe of the dance numbers?
KD: There’s an athletic, sexy but tough number inspired by “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. Also there’s a huge ensemble number called “The Final Countdown.” It’s when the club may or may not be truly closing and it’s a really strong vibe.
DS: What will surprise us when we see the show?
KD: I think people will be surprised that this is not a spoof on the ‘80s. It definitely has humor, but it is a slice of life from that time instead of a joke about it, because it isn’t a joke to the people who lived it. For example, I’ve met Slash from the band Guns N’ Roses, and he really does wear a top hat, leather jacket and super-tight pants—all the time. This show is authentic. And awesome!