Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Broward Center; Rock of Ages (4 reviews)

The national tour of Rock Of Ages opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on December 28, 2010.  That it opened is a miracle of collaboration; a significant number of the cast and crew were trapped by the blizzard that blanketed the northeast on Christmas Weekend.  But through perseverance, everyone was in place by Sound Check. arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of JOURNEY, NIGHT RANGER, STYX, REO SPEEDWAGON, PAT BENATAR, TWISTED SISTER, POISON, ASIA, WHITESNAKE and many more. Don't miss this awesomely good time about dreaming big, playing loud and partying on!In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small town girl met a big city rocker and in LA's most famous rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the 80s.
Kristin Hanggi directed a cast that included Constantine Maroulis, Rebecca Faulkenberry, MiG Ayesa, Nick Cordero, Patrick Lewallen, Teresa Stanley, Casey Tuma, and Travis Walker.  Choreography by Kelly Devine, set by Beowulf Boritt,  costumes by Gregory Gale, lighting by Jason Lyons, and sound design by Peter Hylenski.

J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Maroulis is very likeable as the shy, lovestruck Drew. While he didn’t win “Idol,” he definitely carved out a niche as the rocker, and his talents are well served by this show. Faulkenberry also shines, providing a confident, polished compliment to the hard-edged rocker Maroulis becomes through the course of the show. Faulkenberry and Maroulis are supported by a strong supporting cast—all in comedic character roles—including Cordero and Lewallen, as well as Casey Tuma as a Birkenstock-wearing protester and MiG Ayesa as the outrageous lead singer of the band Arsenal. And, Travis Walker, portraying the European developer’s effete son brought the house down when asked if he was gay: “I’m not gaaaaaaaaay, I’m German!”
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
When the great-grandmother in row K stopped clapping to the music long enough to take her glow light out of her purse and wave it weakly in the air Tuesday night, you knew that Rock of Ages had succeeded in being the infectious, stupid fun that it aimed to be.
...the energy and enthusiasm infused in a production that never takes itself seriously for a nanosecond are inescapably contagious even if you never switched on a radio during the ‘80s.
...the high-octane cast that never seemed to be coasting, led by American Idol alumni Constantine Maroulis.

Surprise three is Maroulis. You can quibble with the Tony committee nominating him for best actor in a musical (2009 was a weak year) but the guy not only can sing, but he has an endearing puppy dog charm and a glow that says, “Thank you for letting me have the time of my life here.”
He is matched power ballad for power ballad by the sexy Faulkenberry who has a gorgeous rock voice...
They are backed up by a circus of strong singers, dancers and character actors including MiG Ayesa as a debauched rock star, who seems like a cross between Bret Michaels and Steve Tyler; Lewallen who breaks the fourth wall at will as narrator, and Travis Walker as an effeminate Eurotrash developer who insists he’s not gay, just German.
The truth is Rock of Ages has one goal only: to deliver a good time, and in that, it’s a @#$%&* success, man.
Laura Souto Laramee reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
Constantine Maroulis aka Drew aka Wolfgang Von Colt and the incredibly talented cast of Rock of Ages bring sizzle to South Florida for the New Year at Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Tuesday’s opening-night performance... had the audience singing along to the decade’s best tunes, stomping their feet and waving makeshift lighters in the air (they hand you these with your Playbill).
Music critic Howard Cohen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The show cannily sends up the power-ballad decade with a batch of hard rock tunes mashed-up, frappéd and delivered with zest and surprising depth by a game cast including Season 4 American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis, who earned a Best Actor Tony Award nomination for his starring role in this show.
...director Kristin Hanggi assembles a fine cast, including plucky female lead, Rebecca Faulkenberry (Sherrie), who has a better voice for pop metal music than her Broadway counterpart.
This could all sink in a vat of Velveeta were it not for Chris D’Arienzo’s snappy script which mirrors and teases the decade it so obviously loves and Hanggi’s direction, which keeps everything moving at brisk space and wastes not an inch of stage space.

Maroulis is a particular revelation. He has the requisite leather-lungs to belt his way through songs with challenging choruses like Oh Sherrie and High Enough, and he transcends caricature and makes the audience fall for him through his mix of ambition, sweetness and charm.
Rock of Ages plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 9, 2010.

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