Turn It Up
Rock of Ages brings fans back to the days of big hair and even bigger names
Little did Jon Robert Hall know when he performed some of the background vocals for the movie version of Rock of Ages that he would eventually play a role in the hair metal musical at The Venetian. Hall plays Stacee Jaxx, the rock star who’s watching his career spiral into decline, a character far away from Hall’s personality.
“Stacee is so different from me in so many ways,” says Hall, who joined the cast last November. “That’s the whole idea of acting, being in someone else’s shoes. You play characters and you’re able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.”
The show takes place in The Bourbon Room, a fictional bar on L.A.’s Sunset Strip that’s being threatened with demolition. Jaxx, the lead singer of Arsenal, agrees to play the band’s last show in The Bourbon Room to help the bar raise money. Saying Jaxx is full of himself is an understatement. He seduces Sherrie, a young woman from a small town who hopes to become an actress, thereby alienating Drew, a musician who idolizes Jaxx. All is set to the music of great 1980s rock bands.
Although Hall wasn’t born until 1987, he knew all the words to the songs performed by Jaxx. The music wasn’t the soundtrack to his youth, but he did go to Aerosmith and Bon Jovi concerts. “I definitely listened to most of these songs. I knew every one of them. I loved all of Bon Jovi’s songs, so ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ was a cakewalk.”
Hall has fun playing the protagonist in the show. Jaxx doesn’t enter the picture for 15 to 20 minutes in, but when he arrives, he tears into four songs in a row, including Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” “That’s my highlight, my pocket of time. It’s all about Stacee and how he is. I get to reveal his character in a very short time.”
As he enters the stage, the mood changes, the lights get low and his rock star hair makes its first appearance. Hall loves the audience’s response. “They can feel that and feel very vocal about it. Everybody loves to catch the panties. Our audience can drink and gets a little rowdy.”
Hall’s résumé is varied, and includes a role as one of the Warblers on Glee. “TV as a genre is very different from musical theater. Glee was mostly live. We had a live audience. In the Warblers, we did like 20 songs together as a cast.” About Rock of Ages, he says, “There’s so much difference in terms of what’s required of you. The vocal aspect is demanding and it’s tough singing those high notes.”
After the show, head over to The Venetian’s version of The Bourbon Room, a place cast members frequent when someone new joins the show. Just don’t expect to find Hall in character. “I have to return all my wardrobe, but that would be insane. That would be like if Tom Cruise walked in there. They love Stacee Jaxx.”
The Venetian 8 p.m. Sun. & Tues.-Fri., 7 & 10 p.m. Sat., $55.90-$115 plus tax and fee. 702.414.9000
Makeup by Sarah Barker using MAC Cosmetics
Hair by Robin Lee