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Rock of Ages on Broadway: Buy tickets
Rock of Ages on Broadway: Show information
Helen Hayes Theatre. Book by Chris D'Arienzo. Dir. Kristin Hanggi. With Justin Matthew Sargent and Kate Rockwell. 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.
Of the few jukebox musicals to find long-term success on Broadway (others are Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys), Rock of Ages is easily the scruffiest and most shameless. Whereas other shows assembled from existing pop songbooks make a pretense of building a story, out of which familiar songs organically emerge, Rock of Ages revels in its silliness, retro sight gags and anything-for-a-laugh repurposing of ’80s hits from the likes of Journey, Styx and Guns N’ Roses. It’s almost ironic: The plot is a classic boy-meets-new-girl-in-town narrative you’ll find in countless musicals. Set in 1987 in the Hollywood bar The Bourbon Room, the story follows busboy Drew Boley, who dreams of one day melting faces and shredding guitars in his very own band. Drew falls hard for cute L.A. transplant Sherrie Christian (cue “Sister Christian” and “Oh, Sherrie”). Then the womanizing frontman Stacee Jaxx threatens to steal Sherrie’s heart—or some more relevant body part. Book writer Chris D’Arienzo stuffs his raunchy plot with sleazy singers, skanky groupies, uptight city officials and ambiguously homosexual bar owners. By Broadway and New York theater standards, Rock of Ages may not be classy or tasteful, but it’s a primo group outing. If you love big hair, cock rock, audience sing-alongs or ordering drinks from waitresses in the aisle, Rock of Ages is your Poison.—David Cote
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Helen Hayes Theatre
240 W 44th St
between Broadway and Eighth Ave
Subway: A, C, E to 42nd St–Port Authority; N, Q, R, 42nd St S, 1, 2, 3, 7 to 42nd St–Times Sq
How to get to the Helen Hayes Theatre
Rock of Ages on Broadway review
The new jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which crams 30 hard-hitting ’80s hits into a self-consciously campy romantic comedy, knows its demo. For anyone who threw devil horns at a Quiet Riot concert, had their ears shredded by Eddie Van Halen’s awesome fretwork or felt their heart bursting from Steve Perry’s caterwauling, this slick package is cock-rock nirvana. And if a two-hour set of pulse-quickening covers isn’t enough, there are strippers, a funny narrator (Mitchell Jarvis, ripping off Jack Black’s spaz-rocker shtick) and—for the ladies out there—American Idol cutie Constantine Maroulis. Yes, the ingredients are all fast-food leftovers. But mixed together and nuked for three minutes, they are quite tasty.
You may be surprised to learn that there’s a book to Rock of Ages. And yet Chris D’Arienzo makes a good-faith offering of actual characters who are somehow motivated to launch into renditions of “We Built This City” and “Cum on Feel the Noize.” The ridiculous plot involves German developers who want to raze Los Angeles’s Sunset Strip, including legendary music club the Bourbon. Meanwhile, wanna-be rocker Drew (Maroulis) tries to win the hand of actress-turned-stripper Sherrie (Kelli Barrett). But enough narrative: More Whitesnake and Pat Benatar!
Rock of Ages shouldn’t be this enjoyable, but director Kristin Hanggi whips her talented cast into a lather of headbanging goofiness, turning up the volume to avoid explanations. It pretty much works: They bring the face-melting solos, you supply the flashbacks.—David Cote
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Follow David Cote on Twitter: @DavidCote