Interview: Nik Hagen ROCKS (Of Ages)

Nik Hagen of Rock Of Ages at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre

Rock of Ages is the combination of music from the ‘Metal Bands’ of the 1980s and Broadway. It is a jukebox musical, using songs from different artists that are fitted into an original storyline. It includes music by David Lee Roth, Daniel Dee Snider, and Jon Bon Jovi among others, Rock of Ages comes ‘moshing’ into the 5th Avenue Theatre through February 24th. Get tickets and more info here.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?
Nik Hagen: I think the base influence has definitely been my mom. I grew up with her choreographing musicals, for high school productions and within the community, and putting her kids into musical theatre camps. She raised us with a love for music and theatre.

Andrews-Katz: What was the show that gave you the ‘theatre bug’?
Hagen: I’d say it was my sixth-grade production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I was Snoopy.

Andrews-Katz: You have experience in ballet, jazz, modern dance, and tap. Do you have a favorite out of the group?
Hagen: No. I’m really bad with favorites. I love jazz; it’s high energy and applicable to so many different things. I love using tons of energy and sweating after a number.

Andrews-Katz: Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical using songs from ‘Metal Bands’ of the 1980s. How do these songs (not written for a musical) fit into the storyline?
Hagen: The book writers have done an exceptional job of mashing up different songs to create new layers of meaning within the music. They’ve smartly named places and people to correspond with certain songs. Any classic rock lover will know some of the songs that are coming up, from the different character names. They’ve picked songs that can speak to audiences on different levels.

Nik Hagen as Franz, Galen Disston as Drew, Brandon O'Neill as Stacee Jaxx/Father, Dane Stokinger as Lonny, and Nick DeSantis as Hertz in Rock of Ages - Photo Credit Mark Kitaoka

Nik Hagen as Franz, Galen Disston as Drew, Brandon O’Neill as Stacee Jaxx/Father, Dane Stokinger as Lonny, and Nick DeSantis as Hertz in Rock of Ages (Photo Credit Mark Kitaoka)

Andrews-Katz: You have performed in both classic musical (Into the Woods) and jukebox musicals (Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages). What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of a jukebox musical over an original score?
Hagen: I think with a jukebox musical, you run into a couple of lyrics that causes audiences to tilt their heads a little bit, for the sake of preserving the original song lyrics. It’s not always a perfect fit. I think that Mamma Mia! Set the level.

Andrews-Katz: Does the music from this era hold any nostalgia for you?
Hagen: I didn’t think it would. I’m mostly a child of the 1990s, but I have two older siblings. There were definitely moments, when going through the score, that I got pangs of nostalgia when I didn’t think I would.

Andrews-Katz: How would you finish this sentence? “Rock of Ages? I saw the movie and….”
Hagen: (He chuckles) I haven’t seen the movie, but from what I understand – it isn’t very good. I’ll go with “and… It’s a guilty pleasure, but the stage production is nothing like the movie”.

Andrews-Katz: In Rock of Ages you play Franz, the son of the developer wanting to bulldoze the Sunset Strip. What motivation do you use to find your character?
Hagen: I think Franz starts off with a huge amount of genuine desire for a human connection. I think he comes across as not knowing the full emotional landscape of people, and learns it quickly. He figures out that the things you know and feel can be wrong, and they can affect people in a negative way

Andrews-Katz: How are you and Franz similar and how are you different?
Hagen: I think new are pretty similar in that we both definitely want to connect with other people. I want to make people happy. By the end of the show, he learns that you have to pursue your dreams. He has a desire to please his father and not his own quest for fulfillment. He goes through a change. Our differences? Well, I AM actually gay. I think I may be a little more skeptical than Franz.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of limitation – what role would it be and why that role?
Hagen: (He chuckles) I did say I didn’t like favorites. Honestly, I would love to play Cinderella from Into the Woods. I think she is one of my favorite roles and her music is my favorite from any musical score. “Steps of the Palace” is one of the most brilliant songs. I love that show, and I love her moments in the show. The role would be delightful, AND you get a gorgeous dress!

Rock of Ages first appeared on Broadway on March 17, 2009. After 2328 performances. It closed on January 18, 2015. Originally starring Constantine Maroulis, the show was nominated for 5 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) during the 2009 season. A film version was released in 2012 starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Catherine Zeta Jones.

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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