Performing in Boston feels like a second homecoming for Katie LaMark. The 27-year-old actress was born in Boston and raised in Andover, where her adolescence was filled with performances at Merrimack Junior Theatre and Andover High School. Her first major role in Boston was in the 2017 touring production of “Rent” at the Shubert Theatre.
LaMark returns to Boston this week for the 10th anniversary tour of “Rock of Ages” as Sherrie Christian — a small-town Kansan who moves to Los Angeles with big-city acting dreams, only to end up working as an exotic dancer.
With the ’80s-rock jukebox musical stopping at the Boch Center Wang Theatre Oct. 23-28, LaMark says there’s a certain magnitude to performing in a “larger-than-life” show at a venue where she recalls watching productions as a child, dreaming about one day taking the big stage herself. “I thought that it would be more daunting, but it actually feels like a very peaceful, full circle thing,” LaMark says during a stop in Boston in advance of the show’s run here.
Q. What excites you most about “Rock of Ages?”
A. “Rock of Ages” comments on itself in this really comical way that’s digestible, and I am really excited to see how the show changes as we continue to tell the story. Our director, Martha Banta, has talked a lot about focusing on the story and not just spectacle of the show. I feel like the show is going to maintain its energy and its life force for the duration of the tour, because we’re going to be exploring the story every night. We’re going to be deepening the relationships and finding new things. In the landscape of this larger-than-life music, it’s a joy.
Q. Because “Rock of Ages” is a comedy, how do you add nuance to your role?
A. One of my favorite things about playing comedy is that drama and comedy are only a degree of separation away from each other. When you play for comedy, people are laughing at your folly, and when you’re playing drama, people are identifying with your folly. There’s just as much nuance with comedy, and there’s a certain element of everyone being in on the joke — instead of being surprised by what’s happening, the audience can see it coming to a certain extent. We’re playing into how we can lead people to believe that one thing is about to happen and then subvert their expectations.
Q. As you prepared for the tour, were there any ways in which your own expectations for the show were subverted?
A. I think that the most unexpected surprise of the show was the number of times I felt like I was out of my element. But you have to have those moments. They’re important for you as a person and an artist, and you can’t ever feel like you are at your most complete because it’s an ongoing process. The beautiful side of that, though, is that I’m working with a team and a cast of people where instead of that experience being scary and putting me on the chopping block, it was a growth opportunity that was met with a lot of support and kindness. I love that.
Q. Are there any ways in which you feel particularly connected to your character? Any similarities you didn’t realize you had?
A. When we started working on the show, I was talking with our director about Sherrie from the point of view of the script. We were trying to examine this production through the lens of a post-MeToo world, and we were confused, because there are moments in the script where it would appear on the page that Sherrie is a bit of a dumb blonde, that she gets roped into things, that she’s not a person with agency or decision-making abilities, but there are also moments when that doesn’t happen.
I remembered watching an interview with Amy Poehler where she talks about the difficulty of being a woman, and the pressure that women feel to be all things to all people. I realized that instead of saying Sherrie is a character who’s inconsistent, we can say that this is the most truthful thing about this character — that her behavior shifts and changes even from moment to moment, because she is also a woman who feels pressure to be all things to all people. Instead writing off some moments as outliers, I get to think about how many times I’ve been in a situation where I’ve needed to change my tactics so a room full of men will listen to me.
Q. If you could offer advice to a young Katie — perhaps tell the girl watching those shows at the Wang Theatre that she would one day be on that stage — what would you tell her?
A. I would tell her to stop trying to find shortcuts, because there’s no shortcut. Every step of the way is important. Even in that rehearsal setting, when you already have the job, when you step into something and you aren’t good right away, those are the moments — if you can process them — that help you get better.
ROCK OF AGES
At the Boch Center Wang Theatre, Oct. 23-28. Tickets: From $25, 800-982-2787, www.bochcenter.org