BWW Review: ROCK OF AGES Fully Immersive and Totally Fun Juke Box Musical Returns Home to Hollywood
ROCK OF AGES had its world premiere in January 2006 at The Vanguard Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles, where it played a six-week engagement before opening a limited run at The Flamingo in Las Vegas in May 2006. The musical made its New York debut in October 2008 at Off-Broadway's New World Stages, playing 110 performances before transferring to Broadway where it opened to widespread critical acclaim at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. The rock, juke box musical then moved to The Helen Hayes Theatre, on March 24, 2011, where it continued its triumphant run for another four years, grossing $129 million and breaking the theater's box office record ten times and remains tied for the 30th longest running show on Broadway.
In addition to being known as a bona fide Broadway hit musical, ROCK OF AGES has celebrated 20 productions worldwide on four continents including long runs at the Venetian Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, the open seas on Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship The Breakaway, and the open road on national tour through both the U.S. and U.K. Furthermore, the show was a runaway success in Toronto, Australia and London's West End and has licensed productions in several additional countries including Sweden, Korea and Japan.
In June 2012, ROCK OF AGES hit the silver screen in a major feature film starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And although reviews for the film were lukewarm at best, the popular juke box rock musical continues to resonate with fans on the silver screen in Seth Rogan's new film, The Good Boys.
And now, the five-time Tony Award-nominated hit classic has returned to its roots on Hollywood Blvd. with an immersive theatrical and dining experience at a specially built performance venue and nightlife destination named after the venue at the center of the show, The Bourbon Room. And with 6 years on Broadway and over 2,350 performances, 5 Tony nominations, 20 productions worldwide and 30 hit songs from the 80s, ROCK OF AGES is the best-reviewed, most-nominated, hair band musical of all time and not to be missed this time around as the cast and creative team are filled with Tony Nominees, Rock of Ages Alums, Broadway talent and fresh faces who generate enough energy to light up the city!Juke box musicals have become a popular with audiences worldwide with their inclusion of popular songs that further the story line. Examples I have recently reviewed include Love Actually Live, Jersey Boys, and Ain't Too Proud. But with the entire production being performed on several stages as well as in many locations throughout the audience in The Bourbon Room, the newest ROCK OF AGES will pull you into the action in this celebration of classic "big hair" 80's classic rock that will get you up on your feet and ready to celebrate right along with the cast.
In fact, each night isn't just a show, it's a unique event reflecting not only the skill of the cast but also the rocking mood of the audience. Before and during the show, guests enjoy a beer, cocktails or upscale bar food as a team of immersive actors bring the Sunset Strip of the 1980s to life.
Basically ROCK OF AGES, with book by Chris D'Arienzo, is the simple story of Sherrie (the incredibly energetic and talented Marisa Matthews in for Callandra Olivia on the night I attended), an innocent girl who decides to move from a small town in Kansas to make it as an actress in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Of course, it's not what she thought it would be as those who cross her path, including nice guy Ian Ward as wannabe rocker Drew and long-haired hard-rocker Sean Lessard as sexy, almost-shirtless glam-rocker Stacee Jaxx, use her for their own personal pursuit of their rock god dreams. It's easy to see how these two powerhouse performers could easily persuade Sherrie to follow them anywhere!
And there is enough eye candy on all sides to attract the attention of every audience member thanks to the entire supporting cast, including Tony Award Nominee Nick Cordero as hard rocker Dennis, Rock of Ages Broadway alum Frankie Grande as the very Gay-Glam-Meta Franz Klineman, Stephanie Renee Wall as Regina, Matt Wolpe as somersault-turning Lonny, Regina LeVert as Justice Charlier, Justin Ray as Joey Primo, Chuck Saculla (in for Pat Towne) as Hertz Klineman on the night I attended, Neka Zang as Constance, and ensemble members Tiffany Mallari, Stefan Raulston, and Zoe Unkovich who all sing and dance their way around the stage and throughout the audience all night.
But what makes this show so much fun and incredibly entertaining, besides all the great rock hits performed by the incredible Rock of Ages band, featuring Music Director Jonathan Quesenberry on keyboard, Greg Coates on bass, Kevin Kapler on drums, Pat Lukin on guitar 1 and Maddox on guitar 2, is the quality of the entire production directed by Kristin Hanggi with energetic and constantly moving choreography by Kelly Devine, with David Gibbs as Music Supervisor. This all-out, masterful production rocks thanks to the production team of Matt Weaver (Producer), Hillary Weaver (Producer), Janet Billig Rich (Producer), Kimberly Helms (Producer), Scott Prisand (Executive Producer), Kerry Brown (Executive Producer), Stacy Sher (Executive Producer), and Bill Bodnar (Executive Producer).So dig into your closet to find those leather pants, fringe vests, miniskirts, knee-high boots, glam-rock accessories, and a big hair wig to be prepared to rock out to the ROCK OF AGES musical score featuring the hits of bands including Journey, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, and others, with 30 classic rock songs including Any Way You Want It, Can't Fight This Feeling, Cum On Feel the Noise, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Heaven, Here I Go Again, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, I Hate Myself for Loving You, Just like Paradise, More Than Words, Renegade, Sister Christian, Too Much Time on My Hands, Harden My Heart, Wanted Dead or Alive, We Built This City, We're Not Gonna Take It and many more! Get over to The Bourbon Room, located at 6356 Hollywood Blvd, 2nd Floor Hollywood, CA 90028, Wednesdays to Sundays at 8pm. Performance dates are open-ended as the group has taken a 10-year lease on the site, knowing how popular this Hollywood-themed production will be in its hometown! Tickets and information at www.RockOfAgesHollywood.com