Musical Review: Rock Of Ages, Curran Theatre

I took some family and friends with me to see Constantine Maroulis and the gang in Rock of Ages at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco this weekend. I was expecting to have nothing but a good time but the show actually exceeded my expectations.

We got there early to grab a drink and browse the merch. My husband and his friend found a t-shirt that they liked but I refused to allow the purchase, much less public wearing of (though I will admit it's a hilarious shirt).

We got seated in the mezzanine and were greeted with an awesome hair metal playlist. I mean, any show that has "Eye of the Tiger" playing preshow is my kind of musical. Suck it, Oklahoma.

The stage itself was pretty rad.

The audience was not your usual Broadway musical audience. Two rows in front of me sat a man with a KISS Army vest. He was pretty pumped for the show.

Once the show started, with a pretaped intro by David Coverdale, it was clear that this was not your mother's musical. Without giving much away, it's a funny, raunchy, hair metal-tastic tribute to the '80s. Sherrie Christian moves to LA from the Midwest to become an actress. She meets Drew (AKA Wolfgang Von Colt - born and raised in south Detroit) at the foremost rock club on the Sunset Strip. The club's having an eminent domain problem because of some forward thinking Germans and a greedy mayor. The gang has to band together to fight the man and let the power of rock and roll prevail. Oh, and of course, there's a love story too.

It's cheesy, yes, but it actually has a lot of heart and a huge portion of that credit goes to Constantine Maroulis, the original Broadway production's and now the touring show's Drew. All I knew about Constantine was that he didn't win American Idol some years ago and that he had a rocker voice. Turns out the guy is really damn charming. He plays Drew with awkward charm that is totally heartbreaking. Patrick Lewallen steals the show every time he's onstage as Lonnie. Elecia Mackenzie is a good Sherrie - she nicely balances innocent and fierce. Nick Cordero as Dennis Dupree is channeling Tommy Chong with great success. Travis Walker as the conflicted German boy, Franz, gets the biggest applause in the house in the second act, and he deserves it. And Patrick Deiwick nails the slithery '80s frontman, Stacee Jaxx - he's Axl and Brett and Tommy all in one. Incidentally, every time he was on stage I kept thinking "THERE IS NO WAY TOM CRUISE CAN PULL THIS OFF." Seriously. No way.

The show was fantastically fun. The audience was really into it; rarely have I seen a big show where the audience was singing and clapping along, laughing out loud and hooting and generally rocking out in a fancy theatre.

Three pieces of advice:

1. Don't be like the people behind us: this is probably not a show for kids. I'd say it's rated PG-13.

2. Ladies, if you want to go and your husbands are like, "Ew, Broadway musical, gross" tell them this: EXCELLENT costumes. And by that I mean there are a number of pretty ladies in lacy thigh highs with garters because they are strippers. Also? They sing Poison, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Whitesnake, Night Ranger, and Styx. Total dude music. And the KISS Army dude in front of me totally agreed.

3. If the tour hits your town SEE IT. Seriously. It's vastly entertaining, charming, and filled with awesome tunes. The good parts of the '80s won't die as long as Rock Of Ages is still playing.

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