'Rock of Ages' comes to Sarasota

The U.S. tour of the jukebox musical stops at Van Wezel for one show

January 16, 2014 

Joshua Hobbs, second from left, stars as Stacee Jaxx in the touring production of "Rock of Ages." PUBLICITY PHOTOS

Joshua Hobbs saw his first musical when he was in high school. It was "Aida" on Broadway.

"I knew right then and there that this was what I wanted to do with my life," he said.

Now Hobbs has the first major role of his career as a musical theater performer. He's playing Stacee Jaxx, the '80s rocker in the juke box musical "Rock of Ages."

"I'm definitely living my dream," Hobbs said. "I get to sing 'Wanted Dead or Alive.' "The third U.S. tour of "Rock of Ages" started Tuesday in Fort Myers. It comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota tonight.

A lot more people know the 2012 movie version than the stage show. But the stage version came first, starting in Los Angeles clubs in 2005 and moving off-Broadway and then to Broadway. (Stacee Jaxx, who's sort of the show's villain, is the role played by Tom Cruise in the film.)

The music is all familiar hits from the 1980s, largely from hair-metal, pop-rock and glam bands. There are songs by Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar. Styx, Foreigner, Europe, Twisted Sister, REO Speedwagon and others from the period.

"I was born in '85 and my oldest brother, he's four years older, would bring home all this music, so this is what I grew up with," Hobbs said. "And Journey was my father's favorite band, so I've been singing those songs all my life."

Details: 8 p.m. Jan. 16, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $50-$75. Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.

-- Marty Clear

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