Rock of Ages
The Pantages Theater
Children from the 80s will fall to their knees and worship Chris d’Arienzo for his majestic creation of “Rock of Ages”. A tribute to rock gods like Journey, Styx and Bon Jovi will bring back either great memories or forgettable ones for a 80s teen trapped in an adult body. In hale deeply and you can almost smell intoxicating fumes of Aqua Net hairspray making the hair high as possible. Eighties music was a much needed respite from Reaganomics, comedian Richard Pryor setting himself on fire freebasing from cocaine and Pac Man. In music, rock lost the bigger-than-life rascals singer Bon Scott from the rock band AC/DC and John Henry Bonham the drummer from Led Zeppelin. Scott died in February 1980 and Bonham died 7 months later. The show is set up as breaking down the ‘Fourth Wall’, where the narrator, in this case Lonny, (the very hyped up and enthusiastic Patrick Lewallen) talks with the audience and have them be apart of the rollercoaster ride, while reminding them they are watching a musical
“Rock of Ages” is about the dream of long-haired cutie Drew (American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis) who works as a busboy at The Bourbon Room, a seedy bar/club on the infamous Sunset Strip. Every night, Drew sees bands on the stage dreaming that one day it will be him. He tells the owner Dennis Dupree (a hysterically funny Nick Cordero) “I want to rock.” Famous words by another rock band Twisted Sister, from their 1984 hit of the same name.
Drew falls hard and fast for Sherrie (Rebecca Faulkenberry) a Kansas native who hopes to become a big time actress. She and Drew have a connection and she encourages him to pursue his rock star dreams.
Meanwhile a mean developer and his son are trying to pull a Giuliani and rid Sunset Blvd of its blatant highly sexual advertising, poisonous drugs and devil worshiping music. In other words, the rock-n-roll lifestyle must flee and flee quickly. Hertz and his son Franz (Bret Tuomi and Travis Walker, respectively) try to ambush the Mayor (Rashad Naylor) into following their plan. The Mayor has enough problems with an eager picketer Justice (the very witty Teresa Stanley) bothering him as well.
The Bourbon Room is under threat of demolition. Dupree figures if hot singer of the moment Stacee Jaxx and his band Arsenal comes in and play for one night, his club will be saved. In comes Jaxx (MiG Ayesa) wearing tight pants, open shirt, long blond teased hair and gyrating every other minute, to the rescue. Quickly, Sherrie finds him attractive, of course, and soon its “Drew who?” The almost lovers, Drew and Sherrie, mess each other up by agreeing to be friends. What a mistake that was! They find their way back to each other but not after going through a whole lot of hell.
The music is great all around. Each song represents where in the story their characters are currently in. You got Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize,” and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” and it goes on like a collection of memories available on an infomercial. Choreographer Kelly Devine created fun and easy-on-the eyes dance routines that make you want to get up and join the cast. Director Kristin Hanggi did an over excellent job makings sure everything, the music, the people gel together and create a spectacular show. Maroulis rocked. He made good-guy Drew into a rock idol. His handsome looks and sweet demeanor makes him likeable and eager to watch what he will do. He may not have won American Idol during the 4th season but he makes up for it by being the lead in the show.
The show is fun, exciting and an all over good time. Go! Enjoy! And reminisce!
Rock of Ages runs until Sunday, February 27, Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Pantages Theater located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard. www.broadwayla.org .