BWW Reviews: ROCK OF AGES is Awesome at Broadway San Jose!
Rock of Ages is Awesome!
The Tony-nominated musical, "Rock of Ages," is rocking stages across the country as it continues its second national tour at the San Jose Performing Arts Center. The Broadway favorite rocked out big time for Broadway San Jose's opening night - and it's a good thing because the audience was ready to party like it was 1985. Playing a limited engagement now thru February 3rd, "Rock of Ages" will blow your mind.
Book writer Chris D'Arienzo penned "ROA" as a time-machine blast from the 80's past, complete with big hair, leg warmers, wine coolers and, of course, timeless, distilled (served up loud and proud) classic rock. Kelly Devine's 80's choreography captures the decade while Ethan Popp's musical arrangements give us a veritable mixed-taped fusion of some of the best that rock had to offer that generation.
You are totally right Linda! I definitely saw some dance moves I had never seen before. Every move on that stage was crisp and had energy that jumped off the stage! I could tell that the entire cast was really feeling it and were having a blast. The music was a major highlight as well and really gave me a taste of what it must have been like to rock out in the 80's.
You should have been there! LOL. The retro show has the good sense to take itself lightly, making for a night of guilty pleasure, glam rock indulgence. Self-aware silliness and liberal doses of fourth wall shattering asides by the clever narrator, Lonny (played to perfection by Patrick Lewallen) turn would-be groaners into campy retro-fun, while mini-lighters passed out by the ushers, give the effect of being at a rock concert instead of the confines of the stately Curran Theater.
I also enjoyed the character Lonny. He reminded me of a mix between Puck from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Jack Black. I think he gave audience members a bit of a breather from all the fast paced music and allowed us to laugh during the show as well as rock out. And the set design really did give the feeling of being at a rock concert.
It really did. Aiding in this transformation is Beowulf Boritt's palm tree backed set, which features a concert jumbo screen (that's used to great effect during the show), and a turnout set that is variously the bar's men's room and a girlie club dressing room. Line of sight is difficult if you're seated left or right of center but luckily the storyline is easy to follow.
You are totally right. Those big screens were amazing! During the song "I Want To Know What Love Is" pictures of a swirling galaxy danced across the monitors. I really enjoyed it.
During the show I did find it a little hard to remember their names, but each character was so memorable I didn't really need to. And the Bourbon Room bar set dressings were fantastic! All the walls were covered with really cool memorabilia, signs, and even a few instruments. It was really realistic.
It was very well done Nick. The seedy Bourbon bar is front and center, with an onstage house band made up of some heavy hitter musicians (David Gibbs, Chris Cicchino, Alan Childs and Jonathan Skibic).
I think that Gibbs, Cicchino, and Skibic need some special recognition. They were absolutely outstanding! I could not believe how fast their hands were moving on their various instruments. It was like listening to rock and roll legends up on that stage and I just couldn't believe how talented they were.
They truly were fantastic and the story line was great too. It centers on wannabe rocker and busboy, Drew (the aforementioned Maroulis) and star struck wannabe actress and waitress, Sherrie (Elicia MacKenzie), a young girl fresh off the midnight train from Kansas. Both are working at the Bourbon Bar on the Sunset Strip hoping for a break and dreaming of the big time.
I feel that musical chops kudos go to Maroulis who effortlessly slides between sexy ballads and screeching rock punctuations. His match is MacKenzie whose sweet and tender vocals give way to torrid, rocker girl cool as the music ramps up, along with the boy meets girl storyline.
I agree. Maroulis was one of my favorite characters because he wasn't some stereotypical rocker who is wild and out of control. His character was kind at heart and just a normal young guy who also happens to excel at rocking out on stage. One of my other favorites was Nick Cordero as Dennis. He was so funny to watch and was a great singer too.
You are totally right. Cordero could not have been better cast as the long-haired, hippy-type bar owner, Dennis. Clearly Dennis has smoked one too many blunts if the ease with which he signs away the deed to his club is any indication. Costume designer Gregory Gale dresses Cordero in fringed suede and sunglasses, a nice counterpoint to over-the-top (and meant to be that way) 80's costume extravaganza that the rest of the cast is decked out in.
Love and music rule the day as Drew takes Sherrie up to a Mulholland Drive-like lookout point.
He longs for her to see him as something more than a friend. She feels the same way but somehow Drew stammers his way into the friend zone leaving the playing field wide open for rocker Stacee Jaxx (a hilarious Peter Deiwick).
Will love or friendship prevail? Will the dreams that everyone started out with be the life-defining realizations that they all end up with? Come see for yourself and rock on with the Curran Theater's "Rock of Ages."
Rock of Ages
Book by Chris D'Arienzo
Playing now thru April 9th at the Curran Theater
445 Geary St., San Francisco
Tickets: $30-$99, 888-746-1799
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (one intermission)
TAKE THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN
TO ROCK OF AGES
A very special MIDNIGHT performance of ROCK OF AGES, is now on sale. Tickets for the Friday Night, April 8 midnight show are just 50 BUCKS EACH.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus