THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR BROADWAYSHOWBIZ.COM ON OCTOBER 9, 2012
Sit back, relax and get ready to clap your hands, wave your arms, laugh and enjoy yourself. Just don’t sing along too loudly while the cast does the rock hits of the 1980s in this take off of Broadway musicals along with ‘boy meets girl, loses girl and gets the girl for the final clinch’. At times this ‘jukebox musical’ makes absolutely no sense but that’s when you will laugh the hardest. How can you explain an audience going wild over, “I’m not gay. I’m German.” said by the most effeminate man on stage?
“Rock of Ages” started in Los Angeles in 2005 moved to off Broadway in 2008 then to Broadway in 2009 and is still playing there. Not only are the baby boomers keeping it going with such songs as “Anyway You Want It”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and 27 other songs, but their kids and grandparents are filling the seats. The front rows of the orchestra last night, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, were the ‘kids’ from the 80s wearing the clothes, and hairstyles, they must have saved all these years and were a show unto themselves.
The cast is so hyper and exuberant that their energy dancing, singing and running around the stage make your head shake in wonder how 2 and a half hours later they are giving their all singing “Don’t Stop Believin” as if they just stepped on stage. Though their stage credits are mainly regional and a few with touring companies you know everyone of them are ready to knock Broadway off their feet!
Shannon Mullen and Dominique Scott are well matched as the young lovers with Scott having a dominant voice. There are a lot of women in the cast singing and shaking their booty but 3 men still the stage each time they are on it which is for most of the show. Stephen Michael Kane just appears and he has the audience laughing out loud and what he can do with his body will make your jaw drop. Justin Colombo, as the narrator, breaks the 4th wall and instantly becomes friends with everyone in the audience. He is a very talented performer as is Matt Ban as the owner of the Bourbon Room club on the Sunset Strip where most of the action takes place. Not neglecting the women there are really only 2 that have a major in the show besides Mullen. Megan McHugh has a tough role and delivers in most spots but is off here and then which is, probably, due to how the role was written. Amma Osei does whatshecan with a stereotypical role but belts out the songs when given the chance. Last, and certainly not least, are the Arsenal, the band that backs the cast up and even has bits to do within the show.
Chris D’Arienzo who wrote the book tells the story with tongue in cheek while the rest of the production team does a first rate job. The show, including the intermission, comes in under two hours and twenty-five minutes.
Warnings: strobe lights and this is heavy rock and roll with speakers reaching from the floor to the ceiling.
Coming next to the Arsht Center is “Mary Poppins” and the opening show at the Broward Center is “Million Dollar Quartet”.