What: “Rock of Ages”

When: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday; additional performances 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21-23

Where: Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: $30-$50

Contact: towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

Say hello again to 1980s rock — the excesses, the spandex, the big hair, the glam bands — via the musical “Rock of Ages,” opening Friday at the Tower Theatre in Bend.

Set on the famed L.A. Sunset Strip at the height of the late ’80s, “Rock of Ages” is a classic fame-seeking-boy-meets-small-town-girl tale. Its songs have already grown on you, including classics as “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Renegade,” “Every Rose has its Thorn,” “Here I Go Again,” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and a slew of other 30-something earworms that serve the plot well — yes, even you, “We Built this City.” On the whole, the show returns us, if only for a couple of hours, to the days when a catchy hook, tasteful synths, a decent music video and gravity-defying hair all but guaranteed rock stardom.

The ambitious, star-crossed lovers are budding rock star Drew, played by Erik J. McGinnis, and Sherrie, played by Clairen Stone, a Kansas transplant embarking on a Hollywood acting career — albeit with a quick stop at the Bourbon Room, where Drew has convinced owner Dennis Dupree (Ryan Klontz) to bring her on as a waitress.

Dupree, who has his hands full with trying to save his club from forces bent on redeveloping the Strip, enlists the help of A-list rock star Stacee Jaxx (Dakota B. Weeda, also the production’s choreographer).

Hijinks ensue, fortunes are made, hearts and fourth walls are broken. The show’s creators (Chris D’Arienzo, book; Ethan Popp, music arrangements and supervision) pulled off a neat trick: taking existing songs of a certain era and repurposing them around the plot and themes of “Rock of Ages.”

According to director David DaCosta of Thoroughly Modern Productions, “It’s a funny show; the music’s fantastic. I love the way it’s all reworked and reorchestrated into a musical,” he said. “All the music is the music you’d expect, and the parts of it you would want to hear, but I think it’s really nicely woven into a stage musical.”

He also stressed that “it’s not a rehash of the movie,” referring to the 2012 film, which received mixed reviews from critics.

“One thing we didn’t do was delve into the movie at all. At least I didn’t give any indication or instruction to do so,” he said. “People may have on their own, but I’m not seeing any of those characters being mimicked or copied. It truly is its own show, its own musical. The movie shared a namesake and storyline, sort of, but we have our own bent and take on things, as well.”

For instance, the script indicates that Sherrie is something of an airhead. “Well, we kind of steered away from that a little bit. It’s just a creative choice, but I also think it’s also the actress. I wanted Clairen to play herself, and she has moments, and she’s youthful like the character’s supposed to be, but we didn’t make her as dumb as the script indicates you could go with,” DaCosta said.

“We’ve struck a nice balance of seriousness and humor, and that’s where the music influenced me: Even though a lot of the songs begin from a humorous place, or end up in humor, I didn’t want it to be campy. I wanted people to be able to rock out, but I wanted them to be moved and reminded of why these songs were so good at the time, and even now.”

As far as DaCosta is concerned, “Rock of Ages” harks back to a time period when rock music still meant something. Those were, after all, his formative years.

“The music and the era the music is from is right when I was graduating high school, 1989, so I was drawn to it in that respect,” he said. “They don’t write music like they did in the ’70s and ’80s, I don’t think. You know, I think music today is — I don’t even listen to it anymore, being quite honest with you.

“And I’m sure every generation says that. But I feel like that whole era of music, yeah, it was deep, yeah, it was emotional, yeah, it was angst-ridden, but I think that’s why people still listen to it, and shows like this are working.”

Each September, the Tower kicks off the season with a large-scale musical in partnership with area theater companies. Past years have seen everything from “The Producers” to “Les Miserables,” “Spamalot,” “Avenue Q” and last year’s “A Chorus Line.”

Ray Solley, executive director of the Tower, agrees that the music is epic. With a five-piece band led by music director Scott Michaelsen, it’s anything but a karaoke treatment.

“You’ve heard the song dozens if not hundreds of times before, but now it’s being used to explain, as is always in a musical performance, the relationship between the people who are on stage, being used to propel the storyline,” Solley said. “We want to make sure people understand it’s not just a concert. It’s not a tribute show with lookalikes playing 1980s rock songs and ballads. It’s a musical love story of a boy and girl coming together in L.A. on the Sunset Strip and finding not only their own dreams to figure out, but also each other (with) some wizened veteran rockers helping them find their coming of age, as well.”

Said DaCosta, “If you enjoy rock musicals like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘Godspell’ to a degree, anything that fits the mold of a rock musical, then you’re going to love this.”

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