Review: Rock of Ages at New World Stages

July 3, 2019

Say you weren't a die-hard rock fan in the 1980s. Maybe you weren't even alive back then! But neither fact should stop you from enjoying Rock of Ages, now back in New York for a tenth anniversary production. Because if you have a dream, it's most certainly the place to be. 

 

With the original set and a couple original cast members, it feels like Rock of Ages never left New York. While it's basically an 80s jukebox musical that combines more hit songs than a casual rock fan can remember the words to, it is still a tale about chasing one's dreams. Albeit, one that is set on the Sunset Strip where just about anything goes. 

 

With both its new and old cast members and the original creative team, Rock of Ages hits that sweet spot that made it a hit on Broadway a decade ago. It is cleverly staged, with some jaw dropping performances, notably from Mitch Jarvis who has been with the show for over one thousand performances. It's not meant to be taken super seriously, and the continuous breaking of the fourth wall means that the audience is always in on the fact that they're actually in a play. 

 

While the main plot has to deal with the fact that the beloved rock club is being threatened by a German real-estate developer with suitcases of cash, it doesn't go much deeper than that. In a time when theater is growing ever more complex with deepening messages at the heart of musicals, Rock of Ages is both a spoof and a tribute to the era of neon, big hair, and plenty of wine coolers. And at the end of the day, it's quite a glorious tribute. 

 

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