The hit musical Rock of Ages returned home to Los Angeles on February 15th at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The musical, with a book by Chris D’Arienzo, started modestly at King King, a Hollywood Blvd. nightclub in July of 2005. After playing four shows in two days, it played one show in August at the Warner Bros. soundstage. In 2006 the show played for six weeks at a Hollywood nightclub, The Vanguard. In 2008 it opened off Broadway and in 2009 moved to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre were it became the sleeper hit of the season, garnering five Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. This led to a cast recording, and it is scheduled to become a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise (in his perpetual quest to prove he is a young hip guy, a quest he started when he jumped on Oprah’s couch).
The musical features songs by rockers like Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi. I never liked this music with the exception of an occasional song. I feel woefully inept at judging the quality of this jukebox extravaganza so I brought with me someone who loves ’80s music. He was sorely disappointed in that, with the exception of one singer, MiG Ayesa, who played an over-the-top rocker and was able to duplicate the high falsetto that characterizes these songs. Next best was American Idol contestant-turned-actor Constantine Maroulis who plays a naive rocker named Drew. He played the role on Broadway and managed to get a Tony Award nomination.
Rebecca Faulkenberry played Maroulis’ love interest. She has a nice voice but it seemed more fitting for Grease than this show. As for the story, it was just an excuse to feature the music; they even say so in the show. Ostensibly it tells the story of the Sunset Strip during this period but it is hardly accurate. Also problematic was the sound system that was all right in the rear orchestra but way too loud in the balcony. Rock of Ages plays the Pantages Theatre until Feb. 27th.