Rock of Ages is not a good show. You might enjoy it, especially if you like those songs from the mid-1980s that currently are most popular in karaoke bars, but it’s not a quality production. A paper-thin plot ties together a medley of songs performed with medium gusto, often choreographed by someone who didn’t seem to be listening to the lyrics (an ensemble performance of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” — “Here I go again on my own/Goin’ down the only road I've ever known/ Like a drifter I was born to walk alone” — excuse me?), ending, lest there be any doubt that the soundtrack was thrown together to strike a chord with the lowest common denominator in pop culture, with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin',” which is enjoying new popularity, as you probably know, because it was the last thing heard in the final episode of The Sopranos.
Still, it’s a fun show. You spend a couple of hours watching attractive, talented people sing and dance on stage, and I had a good time watching it with Johnny Rockets’ new president and chief executive, John Fuller.
John loves Rock of Ages. This was his second time seeing it. “It’s like Broadway for Dummies,” he says.
He has a point. It’s not like the performers are taking themselves seriously, and to emulate a stadium concert from the 1980s they hand out tiny flashlight-like things that light up when you push a button, simulating in a Broadway sort of way the lighters that people would use at those shows.
And they sell beer — Corona Light or Coors Light — so through the course of the performance I had four Coors Lights.
It’s sort of ironic kitsch for the masses.
John, who was just promoted from chief financial officer to CEO, is the opposite of pretentious. He’s 6'6" but he usually flies economy class to help control costs, and he says his biggest personal thrill since getting his promotion was the reaction of his daughters, 12-year-old Bryanna and 10-year-old McKenna, when he told them. They were tremendously excited and told him how proud they were.
After the show, John, two of his colleagues and I went next door to the Glass House Tavern, and so did much of the cast, so John had his picture taken with some of them, and got to hang out with his favorite performer, Mitchell Jarvis, who plays Lonny, the show's narrator, and who John referred to astutely as “that Jack Black guy.”
I decided to let my snobby side out and drank an Irish single malt whiskey I'd never heard of. John had Amstel Light.