Beyond the headbanging rock hair and the heavy metal T’s, there will be a familiar face in the crowd.
Minneapolis native Danny McHugh will be among the rock concert cast otherwise known as “Rock of Ages,” which kicks off Friday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
McHugh is no stranger to the Minnesota theater scene — he’s been in everything from CATS to Jesus Christ Superstar at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.
Now, he’s living in the 80s, covered in acid wash and ready to rock the Minneapolis stage.
McHugh chatted with us about the tour, coming home and what it’s like starring in a show — and touring — with his sister.
Tell us a little about Rock of Ages – and the character you play.
Its a jukebox musical featuring the best rock songs of the 1980s. These are the songs that everyone knows all the words to when they come on at a bar or at karaoke. I play a character named Joey Primo, who becomes the lead singer of a made-up monster rock band called Arsenal. He’s an exaggerated amalgamation of the lead singers of all the best 80s rock bands.
You’re originally from Minneapolis, what’s the best part of coming home to perform?
Being on tour can be tough because you’re away from your friends and family for months at a time. On our time off from the show, I’ll come home and tell people about what I’m doing and what show I’m in. This will be the first time that the people I care about will get to actually experience it for themselves and I’m very excited to share it with them.
You had experiences on local stages before making it big, what were some of your favorite memories from working in the local theater community?
When I was 19, I took a year off from college when I booked my first professional gig at Chanhassen Dinner Theater. The show was “Cats” and it was a huge eight-month contract. I took the gig because I wanted to know if I really wanted/could be a performer for a living. I was so happy to find that the Twin Cities theater community is full of talented, hard working and dedicated actors that really inspired me. With a lot of great real world experience, I was very excited to go back to school for more training and get back out in the professional world as soon as possible.
With a show like this, which is basically a big rock concert, how difficult is it to approach each night, each city with the same level of energy?
Our on-stage band is so incredible, all I need is to hear the opening guitar riff and my energy level is all set for the show. It really helps pump me up. Also, the energy from the audience is a major help on those two-show days at the end of the week.
You star alongside your sister in this show. What’s it like to tour together? Do you enjoy having a sibling along for the ride?
It’s been really great! Fortunately, both of us have been working since we each graduated college, but our jobs have taken us all over the world and away from each other. This is a rare opportunity to be able to be employed and be in the same place.
Since the “Rock of Ages” movie came out, have the audiences changed or grown at all? Have you noticed a larger interest?
I think the movie and the stage show are two separate entities. The tie that binds is the great music, but for me, you can’t quite beat the energy of a live show where audience interaction is paramount. Our audiences have remained pretty much the same throughout because I think if you’d be a fan of the movie, (and at its heart, the music), then you’d love the stage show.
What is the best part of being in this cast?
Getting paid to see the country while doing something I love, and sharing the stage with my little sister!
You’ll have a short run when you’’re home in Minneapolis, what pitch would you give to get audiences to come see the show?
It’s rock concert with comedy, dancing and a big heart.
Rock of Ages will be in Minneapolis from May 17-19 for five shows. Tickets ($34-$94) are still available. For ticket info. or more information, click here.