Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rock of Ages

I'm generally a fan of New York Magazine, a big fan. But right now I'm a little mad at them. So mad in fact, that I'm thinking of writing a letter over an issue that has really offended and saddened me... their lack of respect for strippers and 80s hair bands. It really makes me think "WWHD?" (What would Heather do?)
Dear New York Mag,

What the hell do you have against Rock of Ages? I don't understand.

I know it's not Shakespeare, but it doesn't pretend to be. It's just a fun, silly, guilty pleasure. The cast is amazingly talented and the music ROCKS my nostalgic socks off! It was nominated for five Tony-awards, an Astaire award (for the sexy ensemble dancers) and cast-member Wesley Taylor won a Theater World Award. I've yet to meet anyone who saw the show and disliked it... and that's people of all ages.

So I'm sick of reading all these snide little comments. Stop being such theater snobs. Maybe the 80s wasn't a fun time period for you or maybe you had a really bad experience listening to Poison or something, but you need to get over it already.


Seriously, I don't understand why NYmag keeps ragging on Rock of Ages. First they gave them an unfavorable review:
Rock of Ages is in on its own joke, which ruins all the fun.
Heavy metal is so intrinsically theatrical that it makes sense to build a musical comedy around it. But can you parody a form that's already a parody of itself? Rock of Ages is a mangled singing, dancing extravaganza set to the hair metal of Whitesnake, Journey, and Bon Jovi, among others. (Def Leppard, proving their members are gentlemen of taste, wouldn't grant the rights to their music.) An aspiring rock star and an actress hopeful (played by Constantine Maroulis, of American Idol fame, and Amy Spanger) pursue their dreams, and love, in late-eighties Los Angeles. By night, they work in a Sunset Strip rock club that an uptight European developer (Paul Schoeffler) hopes to demolish and replace. There's also an emcee (Mitchell Jarvis), who narrates the action like a Greek chorus made up of one desperate Jack Black imitator.

Rock of Ages, which was written by Chris D'Arienzo and directed by Kristin Hanggi, and which played Off Broadway last year, is too full of self-conscious winks, nudges, and wine-cooler jokes to be much fun. There's energy onstage, all right, but it's unfocused and muddled. The dancers—the show's choreography is by Kelly Devine—wriggle about in epaulette-shouldered leather jackets and neon animal-print Spandex, trying to conjure the big-haired ghosts of a lost era. They only end up looking cheap and desperate. This is no way to get your rocks off.
I really disagree with them. (And so does the New York Times. And Time Out New York. And Spin. And The Village Voice. And NY1. And TheaterMania.com. And even the generally stuffy New Yorker!) But I respect New York mag's right to have their opinion.

You'd think that would be enough for them. But no... Then they went on to put them in the "Despicable" side of the approval matrix:

The Tonys snub Carla Gugino and Mercedes Ruehl, yet nominate Rock of Ages for Best Musical.

And then again, they dissed them in a review for another show:
At Rock of Ages, a show that imprisons you for two hours between a woofer and a tweeter, the cacophony for the first time seemed intentional: a way of obscuring the cheesy story and driving the sale of drinks. The producers would do well to sell earplugs too—but earplugs are no longer enough.
Enough already! We get it! You don't like the show! You don't like 80s music, you don't like incredibly hot ladies in spandex, you don't like wine coolers jokes (seriously, there's like one wine coolers joke, get over it already). You don't have to like it, but you gave the review... now just shut the hell up already. Because so far everyone else I've heard from LOVED it. Not just liked it, but loved it. The cast is amazing (I've never been a fan of American Idol, but Constantine is good).

The cast of Rock of Ages
(Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The dancing is amazing, the music is amazing... plus, they totally rocked out at the Tony awards with Bret Michaels and Poison.. which you gotta give them credit for. (PS: For those of you who caught the show, don't worry, Bret's okay).

63rd Annual Tony Awards  - Show
Rock of Ages cast at the 2009 Tony Awards
(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
© 2009 Getty Images . All rights reserved

And okay, full disclosure compels me to admit that I do know a member of the cast... but it really is a great show. Trust me. And trust almost every theater reviewer in New York (except for New York Magazine's Stephanie Zacharek, boo!) And as if that all wasn't enough reason to love them, check out their hilarious backstage web series.

Still not convinced?

Yeah, that's right. New York Magazine can suck it.

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