Get Ready to Celebrate Rock of Ages With TUTS

Diana Huey as Sherrie (center stage)
Diana Huey as Sherrie (center stage) Photo by Melissa Taylor
Usually the part of Sherrie, the fresh-off-the-bus wannabe a star  in Rock of Ages, is played by a beautiful tall blond white actress. That's part of what delights Diana Huey who has made it a practice of upsetting such norms.

"Here comes me and I'm all of 5 feet tall, Japanese girl," she says laughing. "The story mostly takes place in LA in the 1980s but she comes from Kansas. It's just really fun to get to play someone who normally wouldn't be played by a person of color."  And, she points out, "There were people in LA in the 1980s who weren't just Caucasian color.

"It just diversifies without putting a big flashlight on it. It's just like: Here's Sherrie. She's from Kansas. Here we go."

The ever popular jukebox musical  Rock of Ages is coming to the Hobby Center starting Tuesday for an almost two week run courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars. Set in the 1980s, it tells the story of waitress Sherrie and busboy Drew who both hold dreams of becoming stars, she in acting, he as a rock act.

Rock superstar Stacee Jaxx comes to the club where Drew and Sherrie are working to put on a last show there before the mayor shuts down the lounge. Misunderstandings leading to thwarted love ensue, surrounded by what some people consider the best music of that era (think Journey, Stx, Pat Benatar)

"I would say Sherrie is a small town girl who has big dreams of being an actor. She wants to have all these huge things happen in her life. She starts off very naive but she toughens up very quickly. She goes kind of to an extreme of putting on too hard of a shell. But she does start to find that balance," Huey says.

The show's music has a lot to do with the musical's continuing popularity, she says. "Who doesn't love '80s music? The score is so much fun."

The show's actors are fully masked in rehearsals even when singing and dancing, Huey says. There are weekly COVID tests and everyone is vaccinated, she says, from cast to crew to wardrobe.

Huey, who has played Ariel in the national tour of Disney's The Little Mermaid says she grew up loving Disney movies. "Those were what I would watch on repeat all the time." From a very young age she loved to sing and dance, she says, and one of her fondest memories is of the feather boa she received when she was just 3 years old. In fact, when she went to college there was never a Plan B involving other studies in case musical theater didn't work out.

Asked why people should turn out for the show, Huey says:

"I think that this show is such a fun celebration. It's all about joy and laughter and fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. We’ve all been locked up for the last almost two years and this is just a party of great music. The cast is insanely phenomenal; everyone is so talented. I'm so excited to see everyone with the set and the lights. It’s going to be really spectacular to watch. The band is amazing, they're on stage It’s like getting to see a giant rock concert with a ton of jokes.

"What better night at the theater could you ask for?" she says. "Having your faces melted. Yeah!"

Performances of Rock of Ages are scheduled for October 5-17 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. Patrons will be required to wear masks and must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours or proof of vaccination with photo ID. For more information, call 713-315-2525 or visit $40-$136. 
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