Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New York, Spring 2009 -- Day Five "Rock of Ages"

According a review excerpted on an ad for the new Broadway musical "Rock of Ages," the show "does for 80s rock what 'Mamma Mia!' did for Abba." Thing is, I'm not sure that's something that needed doing. Don't get me wrong, I liked "Mamma Mia!" I thought it was silly, saccharine fun. To a certain extent, "Rock of Ages" follows the same model: a collection of existing songs that tell an all-new story. Well, maybe not "all" new: it is, after all, the oldest of stories -- boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Along the way, other boys get other girls (and one boy gets another boy), the bad guys are thwarted and Rock rocks on.

I was hesitant to go to "Rock of Ages," since the music (from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Poison, Twisted Sister, Pat Benatar, Journey, REO Speedwagon, etc.) was never my cup of tea, even in the 80s. But when the show got mostly positive reviews, I decided to give it a shot.

Though "Rock of Ages" has much to recommend it -- a terrific performance by Mitchell Jarvis as Lonny the sound man/narrator, a great backing band and the overall raucous experience in the Brooks Atkinson Theater (where you can buy drinks at your seat during the show) -- I still don't recommend it unless you are a huge fan of that genre of music. There are some good lines, and fun is poked at mullet-coiffed metalheads, but the show never really connects on an emotional level, and it never delivers (for me) the pure fun that "Mamma Mia!" or "Xanadu" did.

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