Getting Ready to Rock
A behind-the-scenes look at Theater at UW Tacoma's first musical.
Audience members sway in their seats to the music. Some mumble the words under their breath while others forget decorum and sing along at the top of their lungs with the cast members onstage. A few have turned on their phone flashlights and wave them in time to the melody. Others hold up branded lighters that read "Tacoma Little Theater" and "Rock of Ages." The lighters are free to season ticket holders; everyone else can purchase one in the lobby. It’s not clear who got one as part of a larger subscription and who just bought one, but it doesn’t matter. There is a lot of glowing light dancing in the dark to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
“Rock” is the first musical for the theater program at UW Tacoma. The jukebox musical is a collaboration with the Tacoma Little Theatre. The show is packed with hits from the 1980s including Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” and Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”
The show is an hommage to the 80s. It is earnest and hilarious — it’s also massive. There are 26 actors in “Rock.” There is also a live band. Of those 26 actors, 11 are current UW Tacoma students and one is a recent alumnus. That’s just onstage. There are many more current or former UW Tacoma students working behind the scenes as crew assisting with everything from stage direction to lighting.
"Rock" opened March 3. The final performance is March 26. A show with this many moving parts (including at least one fog machine) took months to put together. "Rock's" director, Maria-Tania Bandes Becerra Weingarden, and the musical director, Kim Davenport, agreed to keep audio diaries. These diaries chronicle the ups and downs of bringing a musical to the stage. Listen along by clicking on the podcast episode below. Also, Bandes Becerra Weingarden agreed to let us take pictures of the final rehearsal before the show opened.