It’s hard to deny the appeal of the 80s. Listen to enough rock ballads and hair band songs, and you will eventually hear one you like — for some, the banging intro to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is more than enough to get you to jump to your feet. Such is the appeal of Rock of Ages, currently at TPAC for a very limited run.
You might already be familiar with its story from the movie version starring Tom Cruise, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough. It tells the story of a small town girl who goes to LA’s famed Sunset Strip in 1987 with hopes of becoming a famous actress. She visits the Bourbon Room, a popular rock venue, and finds a waitress job and falls for a young rocker who also has dreams of making it big. Their love story, as with the future of the club, is uncertain. Meanwhile, the manager of the Bourbon Room is able to convince the world-famous band Arsenal to play their last show at his club, where they got their start. Hits from the 80s bring the story to life.
Rock of Ages is already a hit, making it into the list of 50 longest running shows in Broadway history. The abundance of songs and the way they’re performed for the audience sometimes makes the show feel more like a concert, which is not a bad thing. Towards the end on opening night last night, the audience took to their feet and clapped along. The audience participation was well-deserved as the cast more than once takes to the aisles to deliver lines or just dance to get the audience excited.
"Cum On Feel The Noize," “Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "The Final Countdown," “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Don’t Stop Believin’" — the list of hits is extensive, although the announcer jokes in the beginning that in case of a fire the audience should not sing anything from Def Leppard’s Pyromania album since they were not able to get the rights to any of the music. The musical also deserves credit for portraying two gay characters in a non-stereotypical way. Another character, the overly campy assistant/son to the developer looking to tear down the club, steals the scene when he reveals “I’m not gay. I’m just German!”
All in all, the touring show is a crowd pleaser and probably wins over those who would rather forget the 80s if you just give in and realize you “can’t fight this feeling anymore.”
Rock of Ages will be playing at the TPAC for two more shows. For tickets, visit www.tpac.org/rockofages.