The Elden Street Players’ Industrial Strength Theatre was packed for the opening night of Rooms: A Rock Romance. It was also the musical’s Washington area Community Theatre premiere. The show stars Kate Roehr as Monica P. Miller and Michael J. Perez as Ian Wallace. The pair does not disappoint, and the backing band is flawless. The story weaves Monica’s ambition and the romance between Ian and Monica with fabulous and melodic music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman.
The story follows Monica and Ian for three years from 1977-1980, their musical career, their romance, Ian’s drinking problems, their break up, and Monica’s surprising ending. Director Todd Huse keeps things moving quickly and receives passionate and high-energy performances from his two hard-working actors. A lot happens in ninety minutes.
The success of any musical is dependent on how well the cast and band performs the score. Kate Roehr shines as Monica. Her sizzling rendition of “Bring the Future Faster” rocked the house. Michael J. Perez is fantastic as the self-pitying and unreliable Ian. His rendition of “Clean” is heart-breaking and invigorating and was the highlight of his performance. But the real magic of the production is when Kate and Michael perform together, especially on “Friday Night Dress,” “Let’s Go to London,” and “Little Bit of Love.” Their voices blend effortlessly and beautifully.
Music Director Blakeman Brophy does a splendid job backing up the two leads with a dynamite band. Brophy also performs in the band providing the keyboards. Eric Oganesoff and David Smigielski play the guitars. They provide well played rhythms and catchy guitar solos. Richard Netherton holds down the bass while Bill Wolski provides the beat on the drums. The band plays solidly and effortlessly. It was a shame the audience did not get to see the band performing.
Set Designer James Villarubia keeps it simple, and door gets a real workout throughout the show. The cast also makes use of several closets and boxes that slide out from the wall. Sound Designers Stan Harris and Tony Aiello and Sound Board operator Brian Christensen made sure the sound was crisp and flawless.
Rooms: A Rock Romance makes a perfect date for anyone who likes a nice romance story mixed with a rocking soundtrack. It is also the perfect show for someone looking for a great musical performed by talented musicians.
If opening night is any indication – get your tickets now because this show will sell out quickly. Make room for this great Rooms! Don’t miss it!
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Rooms: A Rock Romance runs through February 18, 2012, at The Elden Street Players’ The Industrial Strength Theatre – 269 Sunset Drive, in Herndon, Virginia. For tickets call (703) 481-5930, or purchase them online.