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Play review

Wednesday, 10 November, 2010 0:20 AM

'Rock of Ages' is a crowd pleaser at Detroit's Fisher Theatre

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The cast of the Original Broadway Production of Rock of Ages.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis stars as Drew in the musical Rock of Ages. It is the first national tour of the five-time Tony Award nominated musical. This is a feel-good love story with hit songs by Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake and others. It is being directed by Kristin Hanggi and choreographed by Kelly Devine. Rock of Ages runs through Nov. 21 at the historic Fisher Theatre in Detroit.

The stage is set up to look like the inside of a bar or nightclub. There are neon signs hanging that read "Roxy," "The Whiskey," "The Bourbon Room" and "Venus Club." The first band that performs is called Arson and they played songs by Whitesnake. For those with an aisle seat, make sure your feet are in front of you as there are musicians coming down the aisleway.

The Sunset Strip is a mile and half stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif. It contains boutiques, restaurants, rock clubs and nightclubs. There are huge, colorful billboards on both sides of the street. The Sunset Strip begins at Harper Ave on the eastern border and runs to Sierra Drive on its western border in Beverly Hills. In the 1970s, the Strip was a popular hangout for a glam rock musicians and groupies.

"I think that it's a very well-written show, very well directed, very well choreographed, very well arranged," said actress Lindsay Janisse. "All the components in it are pretty stellar. It all comes together to create this great time. Everyone that comes at the end of the night is always standing and cheering. You get these fake lighters when you come into the show that you can light up and wave around in your favorite song. It's just a party every time you come. A rock and roll concert almost for theater."

As for the story -- two developers try to take over the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and try to turn it into an area with strip malls. The two men come in with a briefcase full of cash to try and convince the mayor to support their plan. One woman holds a sign that reads "Save the Strip." She consistently returns many times during the musical.

When Drew said he was from Detroit, the crowd cheered. He threw some guitar picks to the people in first few rows as he was singing. Rock of Ages features songs that are from the genre of arena rock music. These type of shows normally feature smoke bombs, laser light spectaculars, large amplifiers and video screens.

Some of the songs you'll hear in the musical are "Anyway You Want It," "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "The Final Countdown," "Here I Go Again," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Keep On Lovin' You," "I Want To Know What Love Is," "Oh Sherrie," and "We're Not Gonna Take It." Many of the songs are sung entirely while others are only sung for a few verses.

"I am one of the ensemble members," Janisse added. "There's three girls that are waitresses throughout the show and I am one of them. There's lots of dancing and singing. I promise you'll love it, such a good time. A little bit of a love story is involved and a lot of partying. It's amazing, it's pretty surreal to think about dancing at the Fisher and going to see shows there when I was younger."

It was going to be the final show for the band The Last Arsenal. The opening band dropped out for unknown reasons. However, Drew was able to get the gig and perform the first four songs of the night. You'll have to see the musical to find out how he does.

The final song of the musical was "Don't Stop Believin'." It was one that really got the crowd on their feet. Especially with the line that goes "Just a city boy, Born and raised in south Detroit." Everyone was standing and waiving their free light sticks in the air.

In July 2005, the first four shows of Rock of Ages were performed at King, King in Los Angeles. In Aug. 2005, one show was performed at the Warner Bros. soundstage in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2009, New Line Cinema won a bidding war for the film rights. In Sept. 2010, the national tour of Rock of Ages was launched in Chicago at the Bank of America Theatre. A New Line Records film version of the musical will be directed by Adam Shankman and will be released to theaters in June 2012.

Rock of Ages lasts for about two and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission. It is definitely a musical that is worth seeing. The references to the Motor City well definitely make you proud to live in metro Detroit.

Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement of ROCK OF AGES range from $29 - $79 (includes parking and facility fees) and are on sale now at the Fisher Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets are also available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayinDetroit.com, and by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-982-2787. Limited premium seats are available at the box office only. For group sales (12 or more), please call (313) 871-1132 or email groups@broadwayindetroit.com.

Related Story: Actress Lindsay Janisse to star in Rock of Ages at Detroit's Fisher Theatre

 

Photo credit: Winslow Townson Photography

Rebecca Faulkenberry (Sherrie) and Constantine Maroulis (Drew) in the National Tour of Rock of Ages

 

 

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