I finally saw it!
Saturday night, I experienced the most fun you can have at a Broadway show without having to ingest a foreign substance. I saw the touring production of Rock of Ages at the Keller Auditorium in Portland, Oregon.
The show starred Dominique Scott as Drew and Shannon Mullen as Sherrie—both were revelations.
I’ve wanted to see RoA ever since it debuted on the Great White Way back in 2009. So I broke down, grabbed a flight from Philadelphia to Portland, and watched the darn thing.
I was not disappointed (and I didn’t fly from Philly to the Rose City, I live near Portland).
Rock of Ages is a hilarious, decedent, uproarious musical that will have you laughing, clapping, and banging your head.
Real quick, RoA is a jukebox musical set in the mid-1980s on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. It uses hard rock and hair-band music from the period including tunes by Bon Jovi, Journey, Styx, Poison, and Twisted Sister.
To me, it’s the “Hair” of the 1980s. In fact, the two shows have a similar vibe. And just as the 1960s and Hair are serious, significant and full of long hair, the 1980s and Rock Ages are silly, ridiculous, and full of really long hair.
I also enjoy when musicals try to get the audience involved. I appreciate the attempt but feel sorry for the performers. The average age of a theatre goer is somewhere in the 50s. So it’s difficult to get the old timers moving especially when they’re looking to leave shortly after intermission to beat the traffic.
One thing that will really help you to appreciate Rock of Ages is to forget all about the movie. The Broadway show is completely different and 1,000-percent better.
The movie bastardized the musical and not in a good way. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character isn’t even in the show and Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) is briefly in one scene.
Lonny (portrayed by Russell Brand in the film and Justin Colombo in the production I saw) narrates the musical and is actually funny—Colombo really stole the show.
The musical’s main baddie is German developer Hertz and his son Franz. Again, neither character is in the flick.
Rock of Ages movie is yet another example of a director thinking he knows more than the creators of a successful and enjoyable Broadway production. When will Hollywood executives learn that the only thing they have to worry about when bringing a musical to the silver screen is scene locations? It’s not very hard.
A word of warning to those who are easily offended or frequently disgusted, Rock of Ages is extremely raunchy. The f-word is used more than it’s used in Jersey Boys, there’s a lot of simulated sex, and there’s at least one scantily clad woman in every scene.
Do not bring your children (surprisingly, I saw some there)!
What you do want to do is sit as close to the center of the theatre as possible. There’s a video screen on stage that is blocked if you sit on the wings.
Also, be prepared for some hearing difficulties. The loud rock band has a tendency to overpower some of the speaking parts.
If you have to understand every word that’s sung or spoken you get be frustrated. Of course, that could be my bad ears, from sitting on the wings, or a bad sound system. Nonetheless, there were times when I couldn’t understand the actors.