Rock of Ages is totally rad! But really, how couldn’t it be? Any show or musical that includes nothing but big hair hits and sentimental ballads (such as Jouney’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’— the most downloaded song in history) as the anchor for the show’s sound is bound for musical theatre glory and is responsible for a whole new generation of young theatre enthusiasts. And maybe a handful of Tony Awards, too.
Writer Chris D’Arienzo and his team managed the rather daunting task of finding pre-written rock songs from a dozen or so major artists–like David Lee Roth, Foreigner, Whitesnake, etc.–then sought out the rights to use them and craft them, quite seamlessly, into a single story that revolves around a small town girl named, Sherrie, who lands a job at a bar on the Sunset Strip and steals the heart of Drew, an aspiring rocker who also works as a bar-back. He splits his time evenly, during the course of the show, between cleaning up vomit and attempting to ask Sherrie (who resorts to stripping to make ends meet) out on a date. How romantic.
The show does well at capturing the era with all its attitudes and tacky fashions, as well as the sticky street decadence of Los Angles in the 80’s. Every element from color to character types are used to the extreme here. Mostly, the show just wants to have a good time–even when it flirts with the political and protests development crews with a rousing version of Twisted Sister’s, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, all the while reaffirming that they built that city on rock n’ roll. Therefore, it’s easy not to obsess over the fact that this isn’t your parents’ musical forte, because the show is basically a rock concert (there is no orchestra, only a loud rock band). Plus the performances are solid. American Idol contestant, Constantine Maroulis, melts faces and breaks hearts with his Tony Award nominated turn in the lead role, which he has played to the teeth since day one on Broadway.
It’s interesting to note that an example of the future of musical theatre starts with a musical that is pure nostalgia. Through all the hairspray, titty bars, booze and cursing, though, there is a real dynamic bit of theatre going on, like it or not. Never have middle-aged women and frat boys come together so harmoniously and had as much fun. People were literally dancing in the isles of the Temple Buell Theatre and flicking lighters with hands in the air. I doubt The Phantom ever received such a reception.
ROCK OF AGES plays THE BUELL THEATRE
For tickets call 303.893.4100 or visit denvercenter.org