Shannon Mullen is almost a regular on the RiverCenter’s Bill Heard Theatre stage.
Now starring in “Rock of Ages,” she’s performed in Columbus twice. She was in “Hairspray” in 2007 and “Legally Blonde” in 2010.
Next week she takes the stage to play the lead role of Sherrie in “Rock of Ages.” The play tells the story of two young people who meet in Los Angeles and fall in love. Sherrie and Drew (played by Dominique Scott) experience relationship turmoil along the way. The play is set to the backdrop of top 1980s rock hits, especially those of the glam, “hair” bands.
“They don’t communicate their feelings very well,” Mullen said of Sherrie and Drew. “It’s a very simple story. It’s all about the heart and the music. The music becomes the highlight.”
Mullen said this tour is very different to the other tours she was part of.
“Oh, my gosh,” she said. “It is so different; it’s more raw. It’s totally different. It’s more of a concert and a party on stage. The other two are traditional musical theater. I had to make the transition for pop music to rock music. And I think it’s a refreshing change.”
Mullen said she didn’t have to change her style of singing.
“I just had to learn which part of my voice to use,” she said. “This character is similar to me in real life.”
Her favorite song this week is “High Enough,” the Damn Yankees song. But she said “it changes all the time.”
There are 17 cast members who all sing, dance and act with a five-member band who are on stage the entire show.
The show began its tour Oct. 4 and is contracted through September.
“It still feels so fresh and so new,” Mullen said. “It’s like we just really started.”
When the company gets to Alaska in May, she’ll have performed in all 50 states.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
While she loves doing the show and seeing the country, she said traveling gets tiresome after awhile.
“When we do a lot of one-nighters or two-nighters, you can’t eat a lot on your own,” she said. That’s when it’s easier to get fast food. “It’s limited.”
Yet, Mullen said she has nothing to complain about.
“I get to meet different people. I don’t have to clean my own room. While I’m young, I have the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s pretty great.”
Mullen graduated from the University of Buffalo in 2007. Two days after graduation, she left on tour with “Hairspray.”
“I’ve been very, very fortunate,” she said.
Although she’s confident that she has the talent to succeed, she still insists that a little bit of luck helps.
“I count my blessings every day,” Mullen said. “The other element is I’ve been finding roles that were available when I’m available. I’m very lucky.”
Performing has been her goal since childhood. Of course, she said being in a Broadway show in New York is her ultimate dream, touring is just another step.
“This is the dream role of mine,” Mullen said. “I live in the moment. Broadway will always be there. I can’t see myself doing anything else right now.”
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., she’s glad to have a supportive family.
“I’m so lucky,” she said. “They are so proud of me.”
Her older brother, who usually has to be convinced to see Mullen’s shows, actually loves “Rock of Ages.”
“He’s seen it three times,” she said. “This is the kind of show that attracts audiences. It’s a guys’ show; it’s a girls’ show. It’s so fun.”
In the future, Mullen would like to play Peter Pan in “Peter Pan” and Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but she’s happy with her current show.
“Right now, I can’t top Sherrie in ‘Rock of Ages,’ ” she said. “This is the greatest role I could ever have been given to opportunity to play.
“This is a play not to be missed. If you have any hesitation, just buy a ticket and go. It’s such a fun show.”