The last few musicals I’ve been to I haven’t enjoyed. West Side Story, Hairspray… My friends keep telling me I need to stop comparing them to Wicked! Fair call.
So I went into Rock of Ages last Tuesday night with trepidation. I was looking forward to the music and the ’80s campy quality, but I wasn’t expecting a storyline and character development of Gregory Maguire proportions.
And I was right. While the music and the one liners are great, Lonny (to be played by Russell Brand in next year’s big screen adaptation), the chubby, mullet-sporting narrator, admits ten minutes into the production that they should “probably introduce a storyline” to keep the audience invested.
This is where Drew aka Wolfgang von Colt (played by Justin Burford), aspiring rock star and busboy at Dupree’s Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip (a nod to The Viper Room, perhaps?), and Sherrie, a small town girl looking to make it big as an actress in Hollywood, come in.
While Sherrie is the most vapid character I’ve seen in a musical for a long time ever, her representation is typical of women in the male-dominated rock music industry at the time: just a piece of ass.
This is all mega rock star Stacee Jaxx sees her as, and acts accordingly. Jaxx seems to embody guys like Bret Michaels from Poison, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and perhaps Jon Bon Jovi (but he just seems too nice!), as the quintessential egomaniac douchebag who forgets where he got his start (hello, Bourbon Room!). The role is a good one, and I can really see Tom Cruise excelling in it in the film version, however I thought Michael Falzon overplayed the role. If he’d just kicked in down a notch and acted like he took himself more seriously as the best front man to ever walk the earth, I think the character would have been more effective.
In fact, if the production itself employed this tactic, I would see nothing wrong with it.
But all in all, the costumes were fab, the majority of actors killed it, the set “broke down the fourth wall”, both literally and figuratively and, of course, the music was pure ’80s hair rock and power ballads.
It’s the best thing going in Melbourne at the moment and, since the last musical I saw at the Comedy Theatre, Avenue Q, for a while.
Image via Crikey.