Theatre Review: ‘Rock of Ages’ at The Fox
By Manning Harris
Theater of the Stars is bouncing back in a big way with a blazing touring production of Broadway’s 2009 hit “Rock of Ages” with the show’s original star, Tony-nominated (and former American Idol contestant) Constantine Maroulis. It runs through July 10 at The Fox Theatre, and if last night’s opening is an indication, the good seats are going fast—a word to the wise. This show has a built-in, loyal fan base, and they showed up en masse, cigarette lighters (fake) in hand, ready to give tribute to their favorite numbers.
“Rock of Ages” has been described as a “rock/jukebox musical” built around rock hits from the 1980′s. It’s a high-energy glam metal slam bang freak-out, complete with songs by Styx, Journey, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Bon Jovi, and Whitesnake. There are a few others, but you get the idea.
If you’re a fan of 80′s rock and you miss this show, you’ll kick yourself.
Oh—the producers say, “Some of the costumes, dancing,and language might not be appropriate for kids under the age of 14.” Okay, you’ve been warned. But I think most teenagers—and their parents as well—will have a ball, the latter remembering the soundtrack of their lives “back in the day.”
Is there a plot? Of course: Big city boy Drew (Mr. Maroulis) and small town girl Sherrie (Elicia MacKenzie) head to L.A.’s Sunset Strip to try to make it big in the music scene, meeting each other at The Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis (Nick Cordero). They meet rock star Stacee Jaxx (Peter Deiwick) whose ego is almost as large as his libido. Builder Hertz (Bret Tuomi) and his flamboyant son Franz (Travis Walker) want to tear down the landmark club and build some sort of sterile edifice. Earth mother Justice (Teresa Stanley) runs a strip club for girls whose show biz aspirations aren’t panning out. There’s a sweet, unexpected bromance.
Confused? Not to worry. The music rules here, trust me: blazing, powerful, raw, sexy, sweet. Funny, I don’t remember 80′s music being quite this vital! But it is. Some of the songs: “Any Way You Want It,” “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “We Built This City,” “High Enough,” “Harden My Heart,” “Heart of the Moment,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Heat of the Moment,” “Don’t Stop Believin,” and others.
The musicians, the lighting!(Jason Lyons), and the set design (Beowulf Boritt) are all knockout. The book was written by Chris D’Arienzo; choreography by Kelly Devine; direction by Kristin Hanggi. Lonny (Patrick Lewallen), Dennis’ sidekick, makes the obvious, yet profound comment: “On the Strip, sometimes the dreams you come in with aren’t always the dreams you leave with.” No argument here.
Meanwhile, “Rock of Ages” is the hottest show in town, hands down. If you’re over 14 and ready to rock, the venerable Fox is the place. Through Sunday.
For more information, visit www.theaterofthestars.com.