I also really enjoy taking in the different Broadway Across America shows that come to Columbus each year. My wife and I have seen such shows as Mama Mia, Wicked, and Legally Blonde, the Musical and really had a good time enjoying the talented casts, great songs, and vivid sets that go with them.
So with that stage set, you can just guess my anticipation level for Rock of Ages, the acclaimed musical, to come to Columbus. I had tried several times to plan a trip for my wife and I to go to New York to see the show on Broadway. Then, I found out that the show would be coming to Columbus. I've had the dates circled on my calendar for at least six months and the time finally arrived this week.
Late last week, I saw a post on the Columbus Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) Facebook page offering a free ticket in exchange for blogging or tweeting about the show on opening night. I thought...why not? Sure, enough, they sent me an e-mail and said my ticket would be waiting at will call. They gave me another one for a friend and my buddy, George Hartz, went with me.
When we arrived at the Palace Theater, we had a little time to kill and enjoyed listening to all the 80's songs that were being played before the show started. It really helped set the mood for what we were about to watch. There were plenty of members of the crowd who were singing along and, yes, I was among them. George and I were highly entertained by the group of people in the row behind us who only had one volume for their conversation - loud. However, while it could have been annoying it was pretty hilarious and actually made the night more fun. As we were approaching the time for the show to start, one member of that group got a text that the final couple who was supposed to join them wasn't going to make it because they supposedly had a flat tire. Well, that set the group off and they kept talking about how that couple really didn't want to come to the show. More on this later.
The show got under way and it was just as billed and then some. The music was awesome! The live band did a great job all night and all the vocals were outstanding. From the pure standpoint of treating it as a concert, it would have been a success as a top of the line cover band concert. However, what really took it to the next level was the hilarious story that wove all those 80's songs into the framework of Rock of Ages. Whether it was making mash-ups to have two story lines going at once, slowing things down to make it more of a love song, or totally changing the rhythm to fit the comedic element, the music made the show a tremendously funny story-telling experience.
Constantine Maroulis was outstanding in his role as Drew, a rock-n-roll wannabe from Detroit who came to the Sunset Strip to chase his dream. He came off as a low-key, shy guy in conversations, but as soon as he got the microphone in his hand to sing he belted out songs with reckless abandon and passion. It was really a great mix that made his character a down-to-earth one that everyone would root for. (George and I also got to meet him afterwards thanks to CAPA and he was exactly that way in person which was very refreshing.) After watching his performance, it was easy to see why he was nominated for a Tony Award and also had the success that he did on American Idol.
The rest of the cast all played their roles brilliantly as well. There was plenty of comedy to go around and the cast all had great timing to pull it off perfectly. There were even a few impromptu lines that added to the experience.
Thanks again to CAPA for hooking George and I up with tickets to the show and the opportunity to meet the cast afterwards. Central Ohio really is blessed to have this organization bringing amazing shows to Columbus on a regular basis and I encourage you to check out their website for the complete schedule and to order tickets for not only Rock of Ages but the other shows that will be coming soon.
As for the group of people who sat behind us last night, the one guy summed up his thoughts on the couple who didn't come because they supposedly got a flat tire but ended up missing out on a great evening of fun like this: "Game on, flat tire, game on!" Yes, those people will not live down missing this one.
Well, I can hear the strumming of guitars and the start of another song from last night starting to fill my head. If you like 80's rock, this show is definitely for you. I will be headed back to see it again on Friday night with my wife this time since that was when we had planned to go before CAPA gave me a chance to see it twice. I'm looking forward to seeing what I missed the first time. Rock on!