You may be asking yourself, why am I writing about Rock of Ages when the show has been on Broadway for over 3 years? Simple … this show ROCKS (pun intended) and is “Nothin’ but a Good Time”! I am telling you “The Search Is Over” this is a MUST SEE when in New York City!
A little background, if you don’t already know. Rock of Ages is a rock musical, written by Chris D’Arienzo, built around classic rock hits from the 1980′s, especially from the metal bands of the decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe, among other well-known 80′s bands. Rock of Ages opened up on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre officially on April 7, 2009. The production temporarily closed on January 9, 2011 and moved to the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 24, 2011. This is where my story begins.
Set in L.A.’s Sunset Strip in 1987, Rock of Ages tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in Los Angeles to chase their dreams of making it big in the music industry and end up falling in love. The show takes place, for the most part, in the legendary Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip. The story is 80′s all the way – big hair, big vocals and big laughs. You can read other reviews if you want more of the story or even go to Wikipedia to get the scene-by-scene details. I want to focus on the current cast who is “Heaven”!
As a middle and high school student in the 1980′s I consider myself somewhat of an expert on that era – I have the mullet in my high school year book to prove it. This cast is simply amazing. “”Oh Sherrie”, played by Ashley Spencer has an amazing voice mixed with eyes that draw you into everything she says – awesome! Justin Mathew Sargent, who plays Drew, has a voice that I would die to have! Screaming 80′s music without sounding like you are screaming is an art and he is a master – “adorable!” Then there is Jeremy Woodward, who plays Stacce Jaxx. He is who every 80′s high school kid wanted to be … rich, famous and a jerk to everyone. Well played Jeremy, well played. “Butt” wait, there’s more … much, much more!
Genson Blimline, who plays Lonny (The Narrator), ties the entire show together with his masterful expressions and timing – not to mention his killer shirts! Then there is Adam Dannheisser (Dennis – Owner of the Bourbon), Cody Scott Lancaster (Franze), Josephine Rose Roberts (Regina – the “i” is long), Michele Mais (Mother Justice), Paul Schoeffler (Hertz), Tessa Alves (Waitress #1), Joey Calveri (Sleazy Producer, Joey Primo), Andre Ward (Mayor, Ja’Keith Gill), Lauralyn McClelland (Swing), Cassie Silva (Young Groupie) and Neka Zang (Ensemble) who are nothing less than spectacular, amazing and yes – RAD!
Then there is the band … Henry Aronson (Music Direction, Keyboard), Joel Hoekstra (Guitar – plays guitar for Night Ranger and Trans Siberian Orchestra), David Gibbs (Guitar), Winston Roye (Bass), Jon Weber (drums) and Tommy Kessler make up the band “Arsenal.” I would pay to see these guys play at any venue, anytime!
Though I never got into parachute pants, the music of the 80′s continues to be “Just Like Paradise.” Anyone who loves 80′s music is missing the concert of the year if they haven’t seen Rock of Ages. My only wish was that Universal Music Group wouldn’t have been such “douche bags” and allowed Rock of Ages licensing rights to use a Def Leopard song or two.
Still not convinced you should see it? Melissa Maerz from Entertainment Weekly writes “Even doubters will be wiping tears from their Wayfarers. Rock of Ages is the power-ballad decade in all its glory, tricked out with big perms, bigger dreams, and the kind of operatic ecstasy you read about only in bathroom stalls.” Charles Isherwood from The New York Times proclaims “A seriously silly, absurdly enjoyable arena-rock musical…the performances blend sincere conviction and knowing parody. I never would have guessed that wine coolers could age this well!” “As the show opens with blinding lights, shredding guitars and hammer-handed drumming, it’s clear that most-pit atmosphere is paramount. By the time the ensemble unites on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” even nonbelievers may start inhaling the Aqua Net and embracing their inner rocker”, reports David Rooney from Variety.
I am not a paid critic and I was not paid to write this post. I don’t get caught up in criticisms or flaws – I get caught up in the experience. I guess I just have “Too Much Time on My Hands” and I feel the need to “Keep on Loving You”. So New York City “Don’t Stop Believin’” because Rock of Ages will take you “High Enough”! Thank you Rock of Ages for “Hitting Me with Your Best Shot!” I “Can’t Fight This Feeling” every time I listen to the original cast soundtrack. ROCK ON and I will see you again at the October 11th performance because ”I Wanna Rock!” ”Here I Go Again!”
Check out the latest news about Rock of Ages at rockofagesmusical.com.