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Apple Valley High alum cast in Las Vegas production

New 'Rock of Ages' show to start Dec. 18

Catch a show:

“Rock of Ages” performances begin Dec. 18 at The Venetian Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.RockofAgesVegas.com.

Jason Oles was born in the 1980s, and soon he’ll be performing the music of his childhood on stage in Las Vegas.

Oles, who graduated from Apple Valley High School in 1999, has been cast in The Venetian Las Vegas’ production of “Rock of Ages.”

“It’s funny to say, but it is a period piece,” Oles said. “I have an older brother, we shared a room, and I think my earliest memories were of this music because he was a teenager then.”

Oles is part of the ensemble that provides the musical backup for the leads — sometimes singing and dancing on stage, sometimes lending vocal support from behind the scenes.

“When anybody is not on stage, we are backstage on mics singing our hearts out,” he said.

In addition, Oles is the understudy for three roles in the production.

“Rock of Ages” tells the love story of a small-town girl and a city boy from South Detroit. Fans of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” will hear the song cues already. The show also features music from ’80s powerhouse bands like Foreigner, Styx and REO Speedwagon.

“(The writers) have done a pretty seamless job of taking these songs that are pre-existing, but really making a great story around them so the music doesn’t seem forced upon you,” Oles said.

Oles describes the show as a good-time “jukebox musical” — but under all the big hair is a story with heart.

“It’s been on Broadway for five years,” he said. “It’s good. It’s an emotional show and people are touched by it.”

Oles looks forward to displaying a look on stage that’s different from his previous roles in shows such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Music Man.”

“I typically have been the guy who is in a three-piece suit for the show, and in this one I look like a street tough,” he said. “Unfortunately they told me not to grow a mullet. I was there. I was ready to do it.”

Instead, wigs will supply Oles’ big hair, leaving him free to concentrate on his craft. Being surrounded by Broadway-level talent has spurred him to grow as a performer.

“When you work with these types of people, who have directed and choreographed on Broadway, you have no choice but to step up,” he said.

Oles started performing while he was still in school, but he had gotten away from acting by his early 20s. Then he met his future wife, Bethany, while the two of them were working at Red Robin in Victorville.

“We met and we fell in love and we went to Cal State Fullerton and did theater,” Oles said.

Oles married Bethany just five weeks ago. In the midst of wedding preparations, he learned he’d passed his audition for “Rock of Ages.”

After the honeymoon, the happy couple quickly relocated to Henderson, Nev. Oles started preparing for the show, while Bethany Oles plans to get her master’s degree in theater.

Oles says their studies have taught them that talent alone isn’t enough. As in any other profession, actors have to learn their craft. He also learned that acting isn’t about the performer — it’s about telling a story.

“I think part of being an actor is taking somebody else’s words and making them your own and serving the story,” Oles said. “It’s not about you. Once you are able to really realize that, and you come to fruition on stage, you’ll never feel a feeling like that. You become a part of something special. You become a part of what this person has written.”

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