The Therapeutic Properties of 80's Cheese
Enter the Midwesterner, who strode into my world on a flaming steed all heroic and flowing poets shirt with hair majestically streaming down his back, muscles taut and oiled and... okay, well perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit (mostly about the horse). He sent me an email saying he had tickets to see Rock of Ages, which is a show about an 80's rock club and features a song list that reads like one of those Greatest Hits compilations you find in the discount bin at Best Buy, and I mean that in the most awesome way imaginable... Styx, Asia, Poison, Journey (AND Steve Perry's solo career), Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and on and on and on. Yes, it's a "jukebox musical," much like Mama Mia! and Jersey Boys, but with a marked increase in tight pants and lots of poop jokes! The story was completely irrelevant... it's only there as a framework on which the cast can hang balls-out showstopper versions of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" and "Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash. Those looking for deeper meaning can go fuck themselves.
Dudes, no joke... it was retardedly good. I mean, no, it wasn't perfect; some of the jokes are kinda corny and obvious, and there's a very real sense that you're being pandered to just a tiny little bit. Oh, and the narrator was basically just doing a Jack Black impression the whole show (he was funny, but still). But whatever, bah, push that all aside... more than anything else, the damn thing was just straight-up, motherfucking ENTERTAINING... you sing along and you admire the cleverness of how they worked in old songs you love and you laugh a lot and just generally leave feeling better than when you came in. It also doesn't hurt that they serve drinks during the entire show's duration.
I guess you should also take into consideration that my ticket to the show was... you know... FREE, so I wasn't exactly looking for a lot of bang for my buck. Perhaps someone who paid $50 for a ticket would feel differently about the whole proceedings. But, regardless, Rock of Ages is a goofy-ass lawn dart aimed straight for the pleasure center of your brain and when it hits, you're going to go all loose-limbed smiley-pants times a million. Seriously. Good stuff all around.
I'll leave you with this... a prime example of where this show is coming from. Walking into the theater before Act 1, everyone in the audience is handed one of these:
It's a squeeze-operated LED flashlight made to resemble a cigarette lighter, so you have something to wave during the ballads without causing a fire hazard. How fucking thoughtful is that? Did Jersey Boys pass out free flashlights? Did Mama Mia!? No... they didn't... Advantage: Rock of Ages.
Oh, and PS... the aforementioned American Idol cast-off was Constantine Maroulis. He was, last night, pretty much spot-on. Great voice, decent moves, nailed the rocker-with-a-heart-of-gold character he was going for... not sure if he was hated or loved on the Idol, but the boy's got a future in theater, I can tell you that.