Rock of Ages
'80s rock hits return in a deliriously fun new jukebox musical.
Thu Apr 16 2009
Photo: Joan Marcus
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
In the ’80s, let’s say you never grew a mullet, squeezed into acid-washed jeans or threw the horns at a Quiet Riot concert. Doesn’t mean that the pop hits of the period didn’t fuse with your hormones and secure an unassailable seat in your pleasure center. That sweet spot is exactly what the insanely fun mixtape musical Rock of Ages relentlessly tickles, with its familiar heavy-metal ballads married to an impish, self-mocking book. Think it’s just a cheap retro goof? Rock of Ages shatters irony with a killer drum solo, then melts the wreckage with a smoking guitar riff.
When it premiered Off Broadway last year, this jokey tuner impressed me as a conventional book musical, albeit one that constantly winked at its contrivances—a Urinetown scored to recycled songs by Journey, Foreigner, Pat Benatar and the like. Kristin Hanggi’s sight-gag-stuffed production, in the transfer to Broadway, is now harder, louder and even more self-aware of its silliness, and the fit is excellent: tribute rock and broad comedy reinforcing one another in perfect proportion.
Constantine Maroulis and Amy Spanger make for button-cute romantic interests, their (relative) innocence a neat foil for the tale’s omnipresent strippers and horndogs. James Carpinello—whose broken ankle nixed him from Xanadu—shows us what we were missing as the supersleazy frontman Stacee Jaxx. And Jarvis Mitchell returns with his shameless Jack Black impression as our spastic narrator, Lonny. Rock of Ages is the Oklahoma! of ’80s metal—and I say that without a jot of irony.—David Cote
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