Anyone thinking about attending the new jukebox musical Rock of Ages should possess a thorough knowledge of '80s rock. Between the shrieking crowd and the rock concert decibels of the band, most of the lyrics are lost. A theme park-level plot serves as a thin frame on which to hang as many rock hits as possible in two and a half hours. Rock of Ages isn't a bad show; it's just a lazy one.
From choreographer Kelly Devine's bump-and-grind dancing, which could have been ripped straight from the bartop of Coyote Ugly, to Gregory Gale's outlet-mall costumes, the whole show tries to get as innocuously as possible from song to song.
Mitchell Jarvis as narrator Lonny flounces on and off stage with the manic energy of Jim Carrey minus his charm. Constantine Maroulis and Kelli Barrett as lovelorn bar employees Drew and Sherrie at least get the chance to show off their impressive vocal skills, even while the book demands nothing from them. Also worthy of mention is Wesley Taylor, as the younger of the two villains, who manages with aplomb the difficult task of singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" in a German accent.
Director Kristin Hanggi has buffed everything to a shine, but book writer Chris D'Arienzo relies too much on the nostalgic haze that the stuffed-in songs will presumably induce. Any fan of big hair and bigger power ballads will have a blast at Rock of Ages, but those looking for something more substantial will be disappointed.
Presented by Matthew Weaver, Carl Levin, Jeff Davis, and Corner Store Entertainment
at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., NYC.
Oct. 16, 2008-Jan. 4, 2009. Mon.-Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri., 7 and 10 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.
Casting by Telsey + Company.