By Amy Patton

Some might say the music of the 1980s is best viewed as a gauzy reflection in the rearview mirror. 

But then we wouldn’t get to enjoy “Rock of Ages,” the campy mix-tape, hard-rock, hair-band romp of a musical now playing at Key West’s Waterfront Playhouse at Mallory Square. 

Anyone old enough to remember the ’80s also recalls the leather-clad, long-haired music heroes who ruled the arenas and airwaves of that era, when Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” blared from the speakers of a Camaro.

Skillfully produced and directed by Tom Thayer, the opening act finds us in a seedy club on LA’s Sunset Strip. Eighties nostalgia bedecks the stage with cigarette vending machines (yes, they did exist), a wall-mounted pay phone and other reminders of those boombox, mix-tape days. 

The rags-to-riches story of rock fame flameouts and love found, lost and found again, is a familiar trope from NYC’s Broadway, where the goofy but endearing “Rock of Ages” stage play originated in 2009. The show’s whirlwind, tune-driven narrative follows the lives of a small-town girl and a city boy facing the LA club’s impending demolition. 

But every rose has its thorn, right?

Thayer’s cast is solid and clearly has a lot of fun with the material, not only by erupting in one-liners at each turn, but also engaging audience members, the fourth wall crumbling at times. 

‘Rock of Ages’ shows at Waterfront Playhouse through Dec. 17. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

The production values of the musical numbers are slick and brash with keyboardist and conductor Roberta Jacyshyn at the helm of some of the ’80s’ most crackling glam rock anthems. The show’s onstage band neatly evokes this post-punk, pre-grunge musical era by featuring rhythm guitarist Brandon Petron, Jeff Dalton on bass and the percussion track lent by drummer Robert Brandon.

The performing cast from “Rock of Ages” slings equal weight with voices that soar throughout the 152-seat theater. Standouts include, but are not limited to, Sarah McKinney as Sherrie (yes, the girl immortalized in 1984 by rocker Steve Perry), her love interest Drew (Brendan Dougherty) and the show’s joke-cracking narrator (and Keys Weekly music columnist) Ray West as Lonny Barnett. Michael Spaziani is the debauched lothario Stacee Jax, who belts out Bon Jovi’s “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” with all the rapaciousness of a true rock star. Olivia White is brilliant as the cagey strip club owner Justice Charlier, who sprinkles salty humor from beginning to end.

 Zachary Franchini is delightful as the flamboyant Franz Klinemann, son of the German-born land developer Hertz (Andrew Theede) who’s orchestrating the club’s demise. Franchini’s singing voice stays solid throughout the show and his character’s antics are infectious.

With all this local talent tuned to the avalanche of songs from Styx, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and Poison, it will be no surprise to see audiences join the cast in “Come On Feel the Noize.”

The power of hope and the folly of love drive the “Rock of Ages” story. 

In the end it appears this majestic acid wash of a musical is living the dream to which its characters can only aspire. Through its amusing narrative, the show aptly delivers glam-metal’s death rattle, signaling the end of an era.

‘Rock of Ages’ at Waterfront Playhouse through Dec. 17.

Tickets: $40 to $85