Over the past years, Chicago has proven that it is a great theater town. We have had many pre-Broadway runs, local shows that have gone on to New York and lately, many of the touring companies have made our city the first stop. Currently, “Rock of Ages” , nominated for five Tony Awards and to be very honest, I cannot call this a Musical Play, but in fact an evening of rock music set to a book by Chris D’Arienzo. In thinking about how to rate this theatrical experience, my star system truly cannot work as it is for each member of the audience something different than the other. For the 20-35 year old group, it is probably a “must see”; for the 36-50 year olds, I might call it a “highly recommended”; for the 51 -60 group, probably a recommended” and for 61 and up ( with a few exceptions) probably a “Somewhat recommended”. The best way to describe this show is a very high energy , loud rock musical with 15 very strong performers and a super band of musicians!
The story revolves around a rock club in L.A. back in 1987. A small town girl,Sherrie ( the adorable Rebecca Faulkenberry) heads off to Los Angeles to find her fame and fortune. In L.A., she meets young dreamer, Drew ( American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis who really has this role down pat). They fall in love, although along the way, as in most of these stories, boy loses girl, they both get hurt, but get back together in the end ( aah, a happy ending!) The songs ( over 30 I think) from the 80’s are by many groups, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar,Styx etc, and D’Arienzo has molded them into his storyline so that it follows and makes sense ( to a point). While the love story is going on, there are several other stories involving a German industrialist and his son who are planning to destroy the bar along with the strip area, another “rocker” and the tale of the club owner and his worker, who is also the narrator of the play, Lonny ( deftly handled by Mitchell Jarvis, who created the role off and on Broadway- he is pure fun). While the set is clever it is a redo of the original and the direction (Kristin Hanggi) and choreography(Kelly Devine) follows the original, just on a different stage.
The music and the performers is what makes this production work. When the audience feels that the actors are not just going through the motions, but truly having as much fun as we are, it works! The show starts off a bit slow as I think the audience is unsure of exactly what is about to take place. As we enter the Bank of America Theater, the ushers hand us what appears to be a Bic lighter, but it is in reality a flashlight, allowing us to be able to “light our light” with the performances we enjoy. Opening night saw a lot of flashlights being lit, and well deserved by this glorious cast. Even some of the people around me who were not happy with the play, felt that the talent was stupendous. I agree!
Hats off to: Teresa Stanley,Nick Cordero,MiG Ayesa,Casey Tuma, Rashad Naylor,Brett Tuomi,Travis Walker, Angela Brydon,Lauralyn McClelland, Lidsay Janisse, Sean Jenness and Joey Calveri who all give 110% and change roles and costumes with great speed. You are the spirit of a musical- the “ensemble” makes it happen!
“Rock of Ages” will continue at The Bank of America Theatre , located at 18 W. Monroe ( between State Street and Dearborn Street) through October 3rd . To check show times, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com
Tickets range from $18-$85 and are available at all the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway in Chicago Ticketline 800-775-2000, at any Ticketmaster outlet or online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayInChiacgo.com