Rock Of Ages

Hello my pretties. How are we all this fine day?
Good? Well it’s just about to get a hell of a load better with this new stream of information I’m about to throw your way! That’s right prepare yourselves. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. And most important of all, Rock-ally.
At the beginning of the week I was lucky enough to head off to New York City…I’ll give you all a moment or so to be jealous…
Right that’s enough time! Now being a teenage Brit there is plenty to get excited about, from the Statue of Liberty (the geek in me) to Times Square (the teenager in me) but thing that was the make or break deal for little ol’ moi was the Broadway show. Okay so you go into a situation with fairly high expectations so you kinda expect to be let down a tiny bit right? I mean you’ve placed whatever it is that your heart desires on some high pedestal almost so high that you can barely see it. That has a lot to live up to am I right? Well what if I said this particular thing exceeded that pedestal? That’s right. Blew even me out of the water with it’s sheer epic-ness. Impossible? Well I’m here to tell you that that is in fact possible!
Back to me for a brief moment…me stealing the lime light from a review/story? This never happens! (looks briefly away avoiding all eye contact)…ANYWAYS back here at home I had been waiting…somewhat…patiently for Rock Of Ages to reappear in the wonderful world of the West End, but when I was told I was able to choose the Broadway production in which we were going to see, can you imagine how excited I got when I saw that the show was being reintroduced in New York? I know bless my little cotton socks!…want to know something ironic? As soon as I booked these tickets the West End decided that hey we’re going to put Rock of Ages on again here! I know right! Typical!
I may have been born in the 90’s but my heart definitely got lost somewhere between the 70’s and 80’s so this production is more than my cup of tea to say the least.
Okay going slightly on a tangent let’s stop that before I end up completely off-road. So like I said, this show was a major deal breaker for me, so no pressure my little acting friends.  But like I said, the show was even better than I could have imagined. If you’ve seen the film…which I’m sure most of you have, if you haven’t where have you been? Under a rock?!…then forget it. Personally one of the most favourable things about the stage production is how different it is from the film. Don’t get me wrong I love the film, but through changing aspects it made them impossible to compare completely…although won’t lie I have to say that the stage production outweighs my love for the film.  Pretty much all that is the film and stage production have in common is the characters, overall outcome, setting and music. The only major thing that was altered was how the characters get from A to B, most of the known attributes are there, just individual character stories take slight detours.
Warning this next section may sound like a list of names and bullet points thrown together, but there are specific people that I think need recognition for this production at the Helen Hayes Theatre, so I apologise for any jolted reading style!
Beowulf Boritt’s set was remarkable. Throughout the entire production the set stayed almost the same, with two sections coming out to open the audience to almost a side story e.g. the men’s room of the Bourbon Room opening into Mother’s office. What’s more, this set was always under the eye of the audience. A curtain never came down. The audience are witnesses to everything that goes on and off that stage from the very beginning to the very end.
All the people behind the stage from directors to costume designers, their works can not really be faulted. The set and costumes and how it all flowed together make the play seem appropriately realistic, with the rock and roll dream-like hazy…or maybe that was just all the hairspray and smoke of the 80’s…who really knows hmm?
Now for the particular production I went to see, Costantine Maroulis returned as the protagonist Drew. Honesly there is no one more perfect for this role. Maroulis manages to add the rock and roll edge whilst still maintaining a teenage…awkward yet charming…quality about his character. He manages to let the audience love his character for all his traits, both good and bad, and ultimately it is his personal journey that they are carried away with. After all who can resist a struggling musician, with one driven dream and an awesome taste in music?!
Another character that really had me was Genson Blimline as Lonny. In the film this is Russell Brand’s character, but again Blimline’s performance any day! Not only was it his characters role to play both an included part but also acts as a narrator to help the audience through the above mentioned haze. What’s more, he managed to keep his humour universal, there was only one USA specific joke that was soon made clear shortly after, to me that is both good writing as well as good acting. As soon as you lose an audience member nine times out of ten they are impossible to get back. One line that has been stuck in my head, and probably the most iconic for me was (knowing my luck I’m going to quote this wrong now…ahhh well!):
You think I’m happy being in a play about poop jokes and Whitesnake songs?
Still makes me chuckle!
Moving swiftly on as I aware that I am running out of time to write this! Not that any of you are aware, after all why would you know my schedules? If you have an answer to that question, it would be much appreciated if you kept it to yourself…thank you very much!
Last, but certainly by no means least because there are so many other actors and behind the scenes production people…that I want to mention but I think this blog would run out of space before I was through…
Anyways, Frankie J. Grande’s performance as Franz had to be my favourite! How can you not love his character?! He is funny and can sing, and let’s face it he’s just full out adorable! This type of character I find is very easy to go wrong with, you can so easily be too extravagant or too…plain?…with it, but Grande manages to give it the appropriate amount of flair and colour.
The session musicians. My hat goes off for you. Sure 80’s rock isn’t no Beetoven, but I’m not sure people realise how much it takes to perform with all the energy that is necessarily required…after all that era is made up of 50% music, 20% hairspray, another 20% the look (glitter, make up, leather and tight clothing) and 10%…well lets keep that 10% as censored okay?
So did this make my trip?
See what I did there aye? Aye?
Now I’m back in good ol’ Blighty. One thing I’m going to greatly miss is that production as I could just watch it again and again and again and again without getting bored and finding it equally as funny!
Next task is to see the West End version, because if I can’t see the Broadway version again due to a 9 hour flight across seas, then I’ll have to make do with the next best thing.
If you are playing on visting New York, or live near there, or have something like £1000 to spare for a trip over I highly recommend this production! And you know I’m 99% right about this kind of thing…don’t question me just go with it!
For now,
Rebel Yell

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