Rock of Ages (Review)

Broadway rock musical is a total freaking blast

Oct 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Critic's Pick

Hey, party people, get on down to the Aronoff Center, where you can get down with some totally rad tunes. I can’t comment on the touring production of Rock of Ages as a theatrical piece because it comes much closer to being a Rock concert: blasting from two decades back and outfitted with leather, sequins, boots, big hair and thrashing guitars. There’s lots of skin and inappropriate language, and it’s a total freaking blast.

What’s especially fun is that Rock of Ages is a tribute to the music of the late 1980s — Foreigner, Journey, Poison, Quarterflash, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi and more — that never takes itself seriously. (More than once a character starts a familiar power ballad, then waits for the audience to complete the lyric.) If you’ve seen Mamma Mia, you know the shtick: Take a tissue-thin plot and fill it with tunes everyone knows at moments that fit the story. It’s great fun and offers multiple opportunities to groan and say, “I can’t believe they’re doing that song.” (A duet between two guys uses “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon with truly comic results.)

The cast is led by American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis (pictured in center above) as dweeby janitor Drew, who yearns to be a Rock star. With his aw-shucks charm and killer pipes, he’s well matched with Rebecca Faulkenberry as Sherrie, an aspiring actress whose dreams are derailed by Rock & Roll reality. Nick Cordero is a stoner club owner and Patrick Lewallen’s manic sound engineer is the show’s erstwhile narrator, making jokes on himself (“I’m in a musical with poop jokes and Whitesnake songs”) and pushing the flimsy story along. Best of all, there’s also a kick-ass band worth the price of admission.

Go. Enjoy. Wave that electric lighter the usher hands you on the way in. You’ll be glad you did.

ROCK OF AGES, presented by Broadway Across America, continues at the Aronoff Center for the Arts downtown through Nov. 7. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.