Tuesday, June 02, 2009

We Will At Least Rock You - Rock of Ages - Musical Review

Rock of Ages - Brooks Atkinson Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - **1/2 (out of 5)
Book by Chris D’Arienzo, Directed by Kristin Hanggi, Choreographed by Kelly Devine

It's loud. It wears leather and spandex. It serves booze. It's on Broadway. Yes. Rock of Ages, the jukebox musical that compiles together the "best" of the 80's is now a TONY NOMINATED BEST MUSICAL NOMINEE. Oy.

Well, it's smarter than We Will Rock You. But that's not saying much. It tries harder than Shrek. But that's not saying much.

And did I mention it stars American Idol's reject Constantine Maroulis? Who now has been nominated for a Tony Award in the Best Actor in a Musical category? Take THAT Adam Lambert! There's hope yet!

So yes, there's some inane plot about a dive rock bar, German developers who built this city, a hippie protestor, a has-been rock god, a small town girl turned stripper, and a city boy, born in south Detroit. Whatever.

It's all an excuse to fit in songs from REO Speedwagon, Journey, Styx, Poison, Foreigner etc. etc. etc.. Fine. I get it. It's nostalgia for all those who grew up in the 80's who at this point are starting to show their paunch and their beleaguered eyes, and willing to drink the night away while pretending to be cultured on Broadway. I get the appeal and I even loved the fake lighter they hand out to everyone at the start of the show (Awesome!).

I just wished they actually sang the WHOLE song instead of intercutting each one with another, or stopping a song for STORY (What story?).

Because as dumb as it all was, you had to give credit to the energetic cast for trying to sell it like it were Shakespeare, and they mostly manage to make entertaining moments out of a molehill.

First off, Constantine Maroulis as Drew, is actually quite good. I mean, his character isn't exactly complex, but Maroulis brings a nice shy and naive appeal to a boy who really wants to rock, but is also a lonely boy in search of a girl. Unfortunately, the day I saw it, Amy Spanger (above with Maroulis) was out, and Savannah Wise was in as Sherrie, the small town girl and luckily, Wise played it with pluck and innocence just as the character was sketched out.

James Carpinello and his abs played Stacee Jaxx, the rock star that rocked too much and he was fine in his role that required him to flirt with a llama (no, that was not a typo or a mistake on my part).

A fabulous ensemble rounds out the cast including a terrifically funny and powerful belter Lauren Molina as Regina, the hippie protestor, and the adorable Wesley Taylor as Franz (and soon to be moving onto The Addams Family Musical), the fey son of the German developer looking to tear down the bar that seems so near and dear to all these rock and roll folks. Mitchell Jarvis almost steals the show as Lonny, part narrator and Jiminy Cricket of the show.

So while the costumes and sets seem to try to throw every possible 80'sism to prove that we are ROCKIN' TO THE 80's, the overstuffed stage with a poorly designed sightlines (that didn't exactly have much to it either) didn't exactly help the cast find the proper energy for the show. Luckily, I found the choreography to be actually quite simplistically clever and between the game cast and the rousing finale of "Don't Stop Believin'" (which with The Sopranos, Glee, Party Down and this show, seems to be having quite the comeback), the show is what it is, and you can't exactly expect anything less or anything more.

BTW, they sing these songs:

"We Built This City" by Starship
"Nothing But a Good Time" by Poison
"Keep On Lovin' You" by REO Speedwagon
"I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister
"Too Much Time on My Hands" by Styx
"Renegade" by Styx
"Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry
"Waiting For a Girl Like You" by Foreigner
"Shadows of the Night" by Pat Benatar
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
"Heaven" by Warrant
"The Search is Over" by Survivor
"High Enough" by Damn Yankees
"The Final Countdown" by Europe
"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
"Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake
"To Be With You" by Mr. Big
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison
"Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon
"Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi
"Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot
"Any Way You Want It" by Journey
"Heat of the Moment" by Asia
"Sister Christian" by Night Ranger
"More Than Words" by Extreme
AND MANY MORE! (or so it says on the website, since they don't actually list it in the Playbill).

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

You liked much more than I did. To be fair, I liked the second act much better than the first.

Vance said...

Though I think I was fine with it because I've seen We Will Rock You. THAT'S Terrible (and yet I'm seeing it again this Friday. lol)