When Shannon Mullen’s best friend saw Rock of Ages for the first time he had one thought: Mullen was perfect for the part of Sherrie Christian. So, he phoned his friend and told her. Mullen wasn’t convinced. Her initial reaction? “No way.” Of course, now as Mullen takes the stage nightly as Sherrie Christian in the touring production of Rock of Ages, which hits the Wharton Center on the campus of MSU, Wednesday, Dec. 13 to Sunday, Dec. 18, she realizes she was wrong. “This (role) feels so natural,” said Mullen from the road. “I get to sing from my heart.” Rock of Ages is a story about dreams coming true — all set to classic 80s tunes by the likes of Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar and many more. And if there’s anyone who knows about dreams coming true, it’s Mullen. A native of upstate New York, Mullen, who has been in dance training since the age of 3, said she knew the stage was where she belonged after she saw her first Broadway show — The Lion King. As a kid sitting in the audience she said she thought “I can do that.” And so she did. Singing anywhere and everywhere she could. She put her skills to good use in high school, participating in a variety of musical groups. “They had a fantastic music program,” she said. “I wasn’t a typical kid growing up. I didn’t party. I’d rather be in my rooming singing.” After high school, Mullen graduated from University of Buffalo’s fine arts and musical theater program. There was no lull in the action for her, two days after graduation Mullen started rehearsals for the touring production of Hairspray. She later joined the touring cast of Legally Blonde and taking the advice of her best friend, when the opportunity to audition for Rock of Ages came up, she stopped at nothing to land the role of Sherrie. “Honestly, this was my dream role,” she said. “I fought for this.” The fight was worth it. “It took me the first two weeks of performances to get over the fact that I was doing it,” she said. Of course it’s not just the role of Sherrie that makes Mullen excited to be part of Rock of Ages. “This isn’t your typical musical,” she said. “This finale is like nothing I’ve ever seen … The audience goes nuts,” she said. Rock of Ages is a feel-good show with a great message to follow your dreams, something Mullen, who hopes to play Sherrie on Broadway one day, continues to do. For now, however, she is happy on the road — as long as she has her mini-blender, her yoga mat and her parents’ house to come home to. “I’m so lucky. They’re so supportive,” said Mullen. “My heart is definitely in New York.” For more info, tickets and show times for Rock of Ages visit www.whartoncenter.com.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.