Rock of Ages has thumped into town for a short, frenzied stay. This is the road company version of the hit which has been doing its thing on Broadway since April of last year. Clearly it’s a juke box musical with no pretense of being serious theatre. More, it’s primarily known as an homage to so-called “hair” bands of the 1980s with 30 songs from such icons as Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Twisted Sister hooked into a simple story.
It’s also intended as a send-up of musicals, which seems marginal rather than well-developed, colored by raunchy humor in basic dialogue, sometimes decorated with profanity. Some bits also get deliberately played to the house. The songs get loud and louder but the lyrics, remarkably, often come across intelligible.
It is packaged with this advisory for parents: “Some of the costumes, dancing and language may not be appropriate for kids under the age of 14.”
Clearly audience participation is likely, even encouraged, with people jumping up in their seats, maybe singing…yelling…with cast members sometimes bopping along the aisles. On opening night lots of people in the house were having a ball. Some late arrivals, noisily bulging into seats behind me, obviously felt that this was like a fun club date, regularly exchanging verbal comments, evidently thinking that the on-stage conversation had less weight than theirs. Maybe they were right. As for the show itself, I didn’t get it.
Rock of Ages, part of the PNC Broadway Across America series runs through 6:30 pm on Sunday November 28th at Benedum Center, downtown. Tickets (412) 456-6666 or www.pgharts.org.