Review: 'Rock of Ages'

April 14, 2011
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“Rock of Ages” demonstrates an understanding of the music business as sophisticated as the Johnny Bravo “Brady Bunch” episode. It’s got an also-ran “American Idol”-er in the lead role, comedy that clunks, and a song list of retread ‘80s rock.

Plus, in its visit to Clowes Hall as part of the Broadway Across America series, its got sound problems that left the opening night audience straining to hear the dialogue (Higher volume doesn’t equal greater clarity, folks).

So why is it still so entertaining and endearing?

For one, there’s Constantine Maroulis, the “Idol” guy, bringing just the right balance of rock star sensibility and awe-shucks charm to belt songs and melt hearts. His experience with the part---he played the part in the original Broadway cast—shows but it hasn’t taken the spontaneity out of the performance. He’s surrounded here by a strong professional company clearly enjoying what they are doing and up to the vocal challenges.

The show also knows when to cut its songs off. Anyone coming to hear all of “We Built This City” might be disappointed. Sane people will rejoice that we don’t have to suffer through it all. .

The writers have managed to walk the fine line between nostalgia and parody, at the same time keeping the show’s heart in place. It never makes fun of the audience for liking song such as “Sister Christian” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” but never tries to say that they are the peers of Gershwin and Sondheim.

And it’s true to itself. While I can’t think of another hit musical whose thin plot complications hinge on our hero’s disappointment that the heroine had sex with a rock star in a bathroom stall, I also can’t think of any where the where-are-they-now ending so clearly connected with audiences in such surprising ways. And leaving audiences with the anonymous rockers rather than the show’s stars is a great touch.

Like “Mamma Mia,” “Rock of Ages” isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s the kind of show that audiences will happily return to, dragging along uninitiated friends for a good time. I suspect—and hope--it will be back. In the meantime, it runs here through April 17.

Your thoughts?

  • LOVED IT!!
    We went to see it last night and loved it!! I agree that the sound issues were a problem and I missed some of the one-liners. Overall, it is definitely a MUST SEE! We laughed, sang, danced and will definitely go back to see it again - hopefully when it's on Broadway again!

    PS - Constantine is an adorable, clutsy, "aw shucks" lead character! Loved him and love seeing his success!! The wine coolers part was classic!!
  • Amazing
    It was the most funfilled energetic show I had been to in a long time. Bring on the wine coolers, crazy clothing styles, and 80's rock music. It is a fun ride!
  • Tickets issued a day early
    I should have stopped reading the review after the first two paragraphs. I was starting to feel better about having missed the show! I purchased my tickets from Broadway Across America's eClub for April 12 - the original opening night. Sadly, I wasn't notified that the April 12 show was cancelled, so I showed up to an empty, dark theater. Unfortunately, that was the only night during the show's run that I had open. So, at least I can be glad that I missed out on the poor sound quality. Hopefully I can have better things to say on Monday after seeing Million Dollar Quartet tomorrow night in Chicago.
  • Rock Of Ages ROCKED
    This was a perfect musical for me...I'm stuck in the 80's and adore what the Sunset Strip used to be along with Hairbands. My gfriend and I won VIP tickets to opening night...prior to show we sat in on soundcheck, free food/drinks, 2nd row seats...Constantine was a doll...enjoyed every bit of it! Can't WAIT for the movie!!

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