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MCHS student takes lead in show

PRESTONSBURG/PIKEVILLE – A Magoffin County High School sophomore will be starring in the co-production of the Mountain Arts Center and The Appalachian Center for the Arts in the show “Rock of Ages – High School Edition,” opening tonight.

Erin Grace Rudd, a 15-year-old MCHS sophomore, will be playing the lead role as Sherrie in the musical, whose character is from a small town in Kansas and wants to go to Los Angeles to be an actor, but ends up in the Bourbon Room. In LA, Sherrie meets Drew, played by Wolfgang Huff, a junior from Prestonsburg High School, who wants to be a rockstar. While the two may not find fame, they find each other and a new dream. The story is set in the late 1980s and features countless ‘80s hits, such as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” to name just a few.

“I might not have grown up in the ‘80s, but I grew up with these songs,” Erin said about her love for the music in the play. “Every night to and from rehearsal, we’re listening to this soundtrack in the car.”

In addition to the top-notch playlist, Erin said she equally loves the message.

“One of the characters says, ‘Sometimes the dreams with which you enter are not always the dreams with which you leave, but they still rock,’ and I love that,” Erin said. “Your dreams can adapt, but they’re always achievable through hard work.”

While this is approximately the tenth show Erin has played in, she said it has been the most challenging to prepare for, with her singing in roughly 75% of the songs and having the most lines she’s ever had in a show, but this is easily her favorite so far.

“My solo, ‘Harden My Heart’ gets very hard to sing at the end, and just learning all the music and learning how to sing each one has been the hardest part, but I enjoy it,” Erin said. “I love the music and this show has the most songs of any show I’ve been in, but this is my favorite. I grew up with these songs, and they’re not like the original songs, adding a lot of twists and a lot of really great mashups.”

Erin explained that the storyline is told through the music, noting, “It’s really cool how they take all these different songs and put them together to tell these stories.”

After more than four weeks of traveling to Pikeville daily for rehearsals, getting home at 9:30 every night, doing homework in the car or wherever she could find a few minutes, the fruits of Rudd’s efforts – as well as the rest of the cast – will be viewable starting tonight.

The show will be at the Mountain Arts Center September 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 each night, with tickets available at, stopping by the Peoples Bank Box Office at the Mountain Arts Center or by calling 1-888-MAC-ARTS. The show will move to the Appalachian Center for the Arts next week on October 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and October 9 at 4:30 p.m., with tickets available at

Erin also explained that the Pikeville venue is smaller, so those seats will sell out faster.

Another familiar face from Magoffin County, musician Zoe Howard will be playing drums for the live band at the show each night.

“If you grew up with this music, you’re going to love it,” Erin said. “My favorite part of this has been the people. We have such a wonderful environment of people coming together to do something we all love and it shows. You can feel the good energy. When everyone puts their whole hearts into it, it’s amazing. It’s a great group of kids.”

On the Facebook event page set up for the show, the plot is described as follows: “It’s the tail end of the big, bad 1980s in Hollywood, and the party has been raging hard. Aqua Net, Lycra and Heavy Metal flow freely at one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary venues, a place where legendary rocker Stacee Jaxx takes the stage and groupies line up for their chance at an autograph. Amidst the madness, aspiring rock star (and resident toilet cleaner) Drew longs to take the stage as the next big thing (and longs for small-town girl Sherrie, fresh off the bus from Kansas with stars in her eyes). But the rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale is about to end when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled Strip into just another capitalist strip mall. Can Drew, Sherrie and the gang save the strip – and themselves – before it’s too late? Only the music of hit bands Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and more can hold the answer.”

Erin Grace Rudd is the daughter of Stephen and Katrina Rudd.

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