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Rooms ~ a Rock Romance ~ MetroStage

Jordan Wright
October 16, 2018 

Monica (Candice Shedd-Thompson) and Ian (Matthew Schleigh)~ Photo credit Chris Banks

If you were ever in a garage band, were a fan of the rock icons of the 70’s, or even dreamed of becoming a rock star, Rooms ~ a Rock Romance is calling your name.  This sweet love story of two Glaswegian teens who find each other against all odds is a rock opera on steroids.  Monica (Candice Shedd-Thompson) is a self-proclaimed Jewish princess while Ian (Matthew Schleigh), her unlikely collaborator and composer, is Catholic from the rough side of the tracks.  She’s fire.  He’s ice.  Can they find success in show biz and romance?

Monica (Candice Shedd-Thompson)~ Photo credit Chris Banks

After Monica hires Ian to write the music to a song she’s written for her friend’s bat mitzvah, she invites him to share Shabbat supper with her family and a trip to the temple the following day.  Ian likes her close-knit family, who are quite unlike his own.  His dad is a drunk.  His mom abused.  While her family is loving, successful and supportive.  He likes Led Zeppelin.  Her idol is Carly Simon.  She is set on a career as a rock star while introvert Ian prefers to stay in his room with his guitar.  When she finally convinces him to become a band, they decide punk rock is where the money is.  Together they form “The Diabolicals”, performing together in ever larger concert venues in London and America and becoming the rock stars Monica had dreamed of.  Famed New York City punk palace CBGB is referenced as one of their gigs.

Monica (Candice Shedd-Thompson) and Ian (Matthew Schleigh)~ Photo credit Chris Banks

The couple experiences love, breakup, success and failure, not necessarily in that order, but against the backbeat of a kick-ass five-piece band positioned in full-view on two-tiered scaffolding.  Paul Scott Goodman’s notable score underpins this high energy, sing-through musical giving us songs that are heart-meltingly memorable and ranging from rock to Scottish punk (remember The Clash?) to ballads.  “Never Gonna Leave This Room” soloed by Ian at his lowest ebb is as gut-wrenching and powerful as Monica’s tender solo ballad about her father’s betrayal of her mother.  In duets, their voices blend seamlessly.

Monica (Candice Shedd-Thompson)~ Photo credit Chris Banks

Directed by Thomas W. Jones II, Rooms ~ a Rock Romance was originally developed and presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and had its world premiere at MetroStage ten years ago when it received five Helen Hayes nominations and a win for Natascia Diaz for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Music Direction by Matthew Stephens, Co-book by Miriam Gordon, Set Design by Carl Gudenius, Light Design by Alexander Keen, Costume Design by Michael Sharp, Projection Design by Patrick W. Lord.  Matthew Stephens on keyboard, David Cole on guitar, Tony Harrod on guitar, Yusef Chisholm on bass and Greg Holloway on drums.

Thoroughly entertaining.  Rock on!

Through November 11th at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal Street, Alexandria, 22314.  For tickets and information call 703 548.9044 or visit www.metrostage.org.

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