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The rock star type

WANT TO GO?

"Rock of Ages"

Presented by Broadway in Charleston

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

TICKETS: $43 and $64

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Universo Pereira sounds like a pretty good rock star name, like something an over-the-top front man for a '80s hair metal band might make up.

Actually, it's the name of the actor who stars as Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages," which closes out the Broadway in Charleston season at the Clay Center Tuesday.

"It's Spanish," Pereira explained off-handedly, adding, "My family was originally from Brooklyn, New York."

The Nashville-based singer/actor who appears in the Tony-Award winning show doesn't mind that his real name sounds a little bit rock 'n' roll. For him, it's an occupational advantage.

 Pereira is kind of a rock star on his own -- or at least an aspiring one. Before he went on the road with the touring production, he fronted the rock band, Red Carpet Rats.

"We're currently on hiatus," he said. "But it's the real thing. We write songs and are immersed in the whole music scene."

Nearly a year ago, Pereira said he saw a casting ad for "Rock of Ages." He said they were looking for a "hot mess, trainwreck, egomaniac jerk rock star type.

"And I thought I could do that with very little acting," he laughed.

Pereira said he knows people like Stacee Jaxx, the archetypical over-indulged, decadent and narcissistic rock star. Music scenes are environments full of big egos and bravado.

"And sure, maybe I've been a little bit that, too," he added.

Still, jumping into theater was a big step for him. Aside from playing club shows and concerts, Pereira doesn't have any real stage experience.

"No college, no high school. I've never done any of this before."

But switching gears was just too great an opportunity to pass up, and the experience for him has been amazing. The travel, for example, is very different from what he's used to.

"It's a whole new experience, traveling with an entire cast and crew," he said.

They travel by bus and airplane and stay in hotels.

"It's a very different than climbing into a van with a bunch of sweaty guys and barreling down the highway to your next club show. This is an amazing experience for me on so many levels."

He also loves the crowds, which aren't always regular theater audiences.

"Rock of Ages is about half music theater and about half rock concert," he said. "We get people dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song."

Which, he added, is sort of impressive. There are 28 songs in the show.

"Rock of Ages," with it's story about a small town girl and a city boy with big music dreams, draws from the raucous, leather and spandex-wrapped rock 'n' roll of the 1980s with songs taken from bands like Whitesnake, Styx, Journey and Poison.

"It's music so many people grew up with," Pereira said. "It's ingrained in the culture, and these songs are the big karaoke songs, you know, like 'Don't Stop Believin,' and 'Here I Go Again.' Those songs have been on 'The Sopranos' and 'Glee,' and a lot of this music is just everywhere."

Pereira said almost everyone is familiar with the songs in the show, whether they mean to be or not, and it's all just a lot of fun.

"It's a good show," he said. "We love putting smiles on people's faces every night."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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