If, like me, you heard about Rock Of Ages and thought that it might be the bottom of the pop-music-to-musical-theater evolutionary barrel that has Mama Mia at the top and Movin’ Out somewhere in the middle. Having enjoyed the era of 80s rock music personally, Rock Of Ages seemed like it would be just a blatant attempt to cash in on the same nostalgia that brings people to see veteran rockers on their 401(k) tours. And while I was right about my cynical assumption, there was also more to the show.
The story has a lot of self-deprecating humor in it – the show isn’t afraid to make fun of the music even though it is that music that holds the show together. The result of this clever feat is that you are smiling enjoying the music and laughing at the absurdity of the show at the same time. There’s also a lot of comedy in the show – amped-up caricatures that provide plenty of fodder for jokes (Lonny and Stacee) but some straight comedy too. And on top of all that, there’s also some fourth-wall breaking bits like when Lonny holds up the CD soundtrack to the show and talks about it to another character.
The cast had some real standouts in it too. I can’t imagine the role of Stacee Jaxx being performed by anyone other than MiG Ayesa and likewise, I can’t see how Ayesa could do anything to top his role as Jaxx – definitely made for each other. Constantine Maroulis, playing the male lead of Drew, has the perfect voice and the right measure of timidity and likability that the part needs. Also, Nick Cordero as Dennis seemed to be having so much fun in the role, it was hard to not just have fun along with him.
I left the theater smiling a big stupid grin. Truth is, though, that is the kind of high you get from seeing a comedy show – feels kind of hollow afterward. So I wouldn’t say it was as good as Mama Mia, but the show was definitely better than Movin Out.
Rating: 8 (out of 10)