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
• Constantine Maroulis as Drew
• Amy Spanger as Sherrie
• James Carpinello as Stacee Jaxx / Father
• Adam Dannheisser as Dennis / Record Company Man
• Mitchell Jarvis as Record Company Man / Lonny
• Michele Mais as Mother / Justice
• Lauren Molina as Regina / Candy
• Paul Schoeffler as Hertz
• Wesley Taylor as Franz
• Kristin Hanggi - Director
• Chris D'Arienzo - Book
• Kelly Devine - Choreographer
• Beowulf Boritt - Set Design
• Gregory Gale - Costume Design
• Jason Lyons - Lighting Design
• Peter Hylenski - Sound Design
• Zachary Borovay - Projection Design
• Tom Watson - Hair and Wig Design
• Angelina Avallone - Make-Up Design
• Matthew Weaver, Carl Levin, Jeff Davis, Barry Habib, Scott Prisand, Relativity Media, LLC, Corner Store Fund I, Janet Billig Rich, Hillary Weaver, Ryan Kavanaugh, Toni Habib, Paula Kaminsky Davis, Simon Bergson, Stefany Bergson, Jennifer Maloney, Charles Rolecek, Susanne Brook, Craig and Sherri Cozza, Israel Wolfson, Sara Mercer, Jayson Raitt, Max Gottlieb, John Butler, David Kaufman, Jay Franks, Michael Wittlin, Prospect Pictures, Laura Smith, Bill Bodnar, Happy Walters, The Araca Group - Producers
Restaurants near Rock of Ages
While tourists bumble into Sbarro looking for a New York slice, pizza aficionados have been busy colonizing this pedigreed newcomer—a collaboration between Kesté’s talented Roberto Caporuscio and his decorated Naples mentor, Antonio Starita. Start with tasty bites like the frittatine (a deep-fried spaghetti cake oozing prosciutto cotto and béchamel sauce), before digging into the stellar wood-fired pies, which range from standards such as the Margherita to more creative constructions like the Rachetta, a racket-shaped pizza with a “handle” made of ricotta-stuffed dough. The main event, however, should be the habit-forming Montanara Starita, which gets a quick dip in the deep fryer before hitting the oven to develop its puffy, golden crust. Topped with tomato sauce, basil and intensely smoky buffalo mozzarella, it’s a worthy new addition to the pantheon of classic New York pies.
With butcher-block tables, inventive Korean-inspired small plates and a Michelin star to boot, this diminutive eatery is of the rare breed that would likely be just as packed downtown as it is on West 52nd Street. Chef Hooni Kim (Daniel, Masa) brings his haute French training to bear on the food of his homeland, splitting the menu between traditional dishes and modernist riffs. His flavors are bright and fresh, with a great balance of sweet, spicy and funky elements. The classics seem, for the most part, like upgrades on their source material—scallion pancakes are exceptionally fat and crispy, while chili-slicked buckwheat noodles are paired with a beer-friendly salad of spicy vegetables and chewy, briny whelks. The updated stuff is equally appealing. Sliders may be passé, but you won’t want to miss Kim’s addictive bulgogi beef variety, served on pillowy grilled buns with spicy pickles and scallion salsa.
Esca is the area’s slickest and most creative choice. Part of the Mario Batali–Joe Bastianich empire, the menu takes a whirl through Southern Italian seaside cooking (spaghetti with lobster). Start with the signature raw antipasti, called crudi, then move on to excellent, shareable pastas such as superfresh grilled fish, lavish Sicilian-style seafood stew, or succulent square-cut maccheroni alla chitarra with sea urchin and crab.
Perennial burger mecca Shake Shack continues to be one of the most coveted postmuseum pit stops for its nostalgic beef patties, crinkle fries and frozen custard. Thankfully, the usually long queue moves fairly fast.
Like a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, this narrow, below-street-level noodle joint is designed for quick meals. Most seats are along a counter, behind which the chefs crisp pork slices with a propane torch and tend to bubbling stockpots. The specialty here is paitan ramen, a creamy soup that’s a chicken-based variation on Hakata, Japan’s famous tonkotsu (pork) broth. The most basic version, the Totto chicken, is a flavorful, opaque soup bobbing with thin, straight noodles and slow-cooked pork ridged with satiny fat. The real winner, however, is the miso ramen, enriched with a scoop of nutty fermented soybean paste and wavy egg noodles. Ramen is generally a feast unto itself, but you can bulk up a meal with sides like char siu mayo don—a mound of rice heaped with more unctuous pork, yuzu-accented mayonnaise and raw sliced scallions.