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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Theater preview: "Rock of Ages" at the Barn Theatre

The "Rock of Ages" cast, with Robert Newman, center
Barn Theatre School
The "Rock of Ages" cast, with Robert Newman, center

Whitesnake. Def Leppard. Pat Benatar. Journey. The next production at the Barn Theatre is the "mixtape musical" Rock of Ages, which ties together glam-band hits of the 1980s in a familiar story in which a group of misfits tries to keep their favorite hangout from closing down. It opens Aug 9 and will run through Aug 21.

Actor Robert Newman
VROD2003AD, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Actor Robert Newman

Actor Robert Newman, who has played countless roles at The Barn — from the title role in Sweeney Todd to Edna Turnblad in Hairspray — plays the Bourbon Room's owner Dennis Dupree. Newman is one of the performers who helped build the national reputation of the Barn Theatre as a proven training ground for well-rounded actors.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, he says he still loves the fact that he gets to "play pretend" for a living, and that his apprenticeship at The Barn was a life-changing opportunity for him in the early 1980s. That decade shaped the direction of his life professionally and personally: he married his wife, became a father, and began his long run as Joshua Lewis on Guiding Light. As Dennis Dupree in Rock of Ages, he's had to find his "rock voice," a stylistic switch from his training as a classic baritone.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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