How you feel about “Rock of Ages,” a classic rock “Jukebox musical” now in Chicago, depends on whether you saw the original show ten years ago and liked it or if you don’t mind and even appreciate that this version is a parody of itself.
At the Nederlander Ttheatre (formerly Oriental) through Aril 28 2019, the current show is taking its 10th anniversary tour through the U.S. with more flashing concert rock-band lights and amps than when it came out in 2009.
Directed by Martha Banta, everything is highly exaggerated which makes this version funnier but it also gallops through several of the songs and turns up the volume so that you may catch the beat rather than the words even though the show includes such standards as “Waiting For a Girl Like You,” and “Here we Go Again.”
Concert goers who had followed 1980s bands like Styx, Poison and Twisted Sister are likely to relate to “Rock of Ages’ ” mood and setting in spite of the book’s hokey premise, i.e. that a German father and son with exaggerated accents are going to clean up and close down Sunset Strip.
John-Michael Breen is excellent as Lonny, the show’s narrator who often breaks through theater’s “fourth wall” to talk with the audience. Anthony Nuccio is believable as aspiring rocker Drew who is a busboy at the show’s stage setting of the Bourbon Room, a Hollywood club.
Katie LaMark as Sherrie, Drew’s love interest and an aspiring actress who got a job as a waitress at the Bourbon Room, has an excellent voice but she looks about 10 years older than the part usually calls for so doesn’t seem a good match with Drew.
Sam Harvey portrays Stacee Jaxx, a supposed headliner who attracts and discards Sherrie.
Kudos to the Rock of Ages band with conductor/pianist Marshall Keating, guitarists Zach “AttAkk” Hennig and Maddox, drummer Chris Moore and Bass Oliver Hofer . They are at the back of the stage but really make the show worth seeing.
The musical’s book is by Chris D’Arienzo with arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp.
DETAILS: “Rock of Ages” is at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. through April 28, 2019. Running: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission. For tickets and other information visit Broadway In Chicago.
For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago