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Theatre Review (LA): Rock of Ages by Chris D’Arienzo at the Pantages Theatre

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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.

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About Robert Machray

  • Darien

    Constantine is hardly an American Idol contestant turned actor. He is a classicly trained actor/singer who gradutated from the Boston Conservatory. I would think, that as a theater critic, your scope of critical commentary would be focused more on the overall entertainment factor of the show and the acting ability of the cast, not one falsetto note by one over the top character that garners comment, but what do I know. How about the heart of the show? How about the message it sends? How about the lighting and the costumes and the ambiance an the comedy? Even though the narrator is making it clear, I’m not quite sure you got the joke.

  • Toni Talley

    While I do agree that MiG Ayesa is a wonderful singer/actor/dancer who brings amazing talent to the playing of Stacee Jaxx, I must disagree about the rest of the review. I have seen the show several times and with different actors, and have always enjoyed it immensely. The play is hilarious with it’s tongue-in-cheek humor, the staging is fantastic, I feel that Rebecca Faulkenberry is perfect as Sherrie and has a most fabulous voice, and the story, while not original, has at least enough going to keep us engrossed in the music. And that is the whole point, to have a great time, and we always do.

  • robert machray

    Mr.Maroulis might be a wonderful actor but I couldn’t tell that from the rear of the orchestra especially because he was playing such a shy, rather nerdy character. But he did get nominated for a Tony. I did not however find the show hilarious. Lots of cheap humor and I don’t think making fun of a period whether it be the 80’s or Victorian times helps us take the “heart” of the show seriously. But I know the show has it’s fans so enjoy it those who are.