Dee Snider was seated comfortably in the middle of the orchestra section at last night's Broadway opening of power ballad jukebox musical Rock of Ages. Yes, it's that un-theatery a piece of theater fluff.
The Twisted Sister frontman wasn't the only aging, leather-clad rocker in attendance. The dudes from Night Ranger were there, so was the guy who used to sing for Survivor. They all creaked up to watch the songs of their beloved, boozey, LA wastoid 1980's spring to glittery gay life on the Broadway stage.
The show is: Constantine from American Idol is a wannabe rocker who meets cute with a girl (Amy Spanger—girl I saw you in Rent in Boston like seven million years ago and you look exactly the same, so good work) who's a wannabe actress and they fall in love and save a rock club as a jerky German tries to turn the Sunset Strip into an adult amusement and shopping park (hmm... kinda like that company that bought Coney Island?) It's a thin story, entirely forgettable, but there are some good jokes and who the hell really cares. The real reason the show exists is so those awesome 80's songs—"Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Don't Stop Believin'", "We're Not Gonna Take It"—can rock out with their gypsy robe-covered cocks out and melt our faces off. And, for the most part, it works!
The show straddles a delicate balance between openly mocking the silliness of that whole, old scene and laboriously giving it a blow job. It's loving, but not overwrought. Poking fun, but not mean. And it's just really fun. If you have a friend or surly younger brother in town who hates Broadway shows but kinda secretly wants to see a Broadway show, you could definitely do worse than this. Charles Isherwood agrees!
After the opening there was a party next door, which featured a hilarious but vaguely unsettling mash-up between your usual "helloooo!!" Theatre types and a crowd of booze-guzzling old rockers, their precarious brides hanging on their arms. It just didn't seem right in some way, two worlds that should never collide.
In celebrity attendance news! I bumped into (literally) that fruit from Ugly Betty. And I gawped embarrassingly at Patrick Wilson. Katrina Bowden from 30 Rock shimmied by at one point, and the rumor is that Zac Efron poked his head in too, but I'm not sure I believe it. After I made a complete spectacular ass of myself when trying to talk to one of the show's cast members—sorry about that!—I decided it was time to leave.
The whole party left me feeling just a bit sad—sure there were crazy ladies drunkenly clapping and whooping during the show, but there in the safe confines of Pretend Land, it all seemed OK, it was kicky good fun. But out there in the real-ish world, a place that's long ago left these big-haired oddities behind, it all suddenly seemed so melancholy. These people, lost in time. Now beholden and grateful to their once most hated (and, let's be honest, rightfully so) enemy, musical theatre folk.
But on stage! On stage it's still quite alive and happy. I feel bound by some innate corniness to say this: