Es­cape to amus­ing ’80s with ‘Rock of Ages’ show

Boston Herald - - NEWS - Jed GOT­TLIEB — jed.got­tlieb@boston­her­ald.com

Some hip-hop lovers hate “Hamil­ton.” To them, the Broad­way smash, which is cur­rently play­ing at the Bos­ton Opera House, rep­re­sents a bas­tardiza­tion, an ex­ploita­tion of Amer­ica’s last great artis­tic achieve­ment. While I think that takes too nar­row a view of what hip-hop can do — as a tool for rapidly de­liv­er­ing needed ex­po­si­tion, rap makes “Hamil­ton’s” deep dive into his­tory pos­si­ble — I un­der­stand the sen­ti­ment. How­ever, the pop me­tal of the ’80s is so base it can’t be bas­tardized, so shame­less it can’t be ex­ploited. Pub­lic En­emy’s “It Takes a Na­tion of Mil­lions to Hold Us Back” and The Roots’ “Things Fall Apart” in­spired a gen­er­a­tion to think crit­i­cally about the world; Poi­son, Ratt and Mot­ley Crue records in­spired a gen­er­a­tion to chug an­other beer and get tin­ni­tus. With this in mind, “Rock of Ages” ar­rives in Bos­ton to play op­po­site “Hamil­ton.” On its 10th an­niver­sary tour, “Rock of Ages,” Oct. 23 to 28 at the Wang The­atre, reaf­firms the en­dur­ing ap­peal of es­capism. Twisted Sis­ter may have not aged well, but our nos­tal­gia for it has. If you haven’t seen the hit mu­si­cal or flop 2012 film, “Rock of Ages” is “Bye Bye Birdie” on the Sun­set Strip in ’87. It’s boy meets girl, rock star steals girl, boy wins girl back to the tune of Sur­vivor’s “The Search Is Over” played by an al­ways-on­stage heavy me­tal band. The premise is both ab­surd and ob­vi­ous. And if you like an old-fash­ioned Broad­way spec­tac­u­lar, “Rock of Ages” hews much closer to “Guys & Dolls” than “Hamil­ton” does. Wisely, “Rock of Ages” is self-aware. The com­edy is both raunchy and packed with ’80s jokes. The afore­men­tioned boy and girl drink wine cool­ers in the Hol­ly­wood Hills be­fore girl humps the hood of boy’s VW a la Tawny Ki­taen in Whites­nake’s “Here I Go Again” video. The show seems to ful­fill the am­bi­tions of the songs it em­ploys (“Sis­ter Chris­tian,” “More than Words,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”? Yes, yes and of course!) They fi­nally be­come art. OK, OK, too much. They fi­nally as­pire to be­com­ing art as part of a show that’s old-school Frank Loesser or Mered­ith Will­son dressed up as some­thing new and retro, hip and cheesy. I want to be clear: Do not see this over “Hamil­ton”! But if you have al­ready seen Lin-Manuel Mi­randa’s mas­ter­piece, may I sug­gest some song and dance num­bers set to Jour­ney, Styx and David Lee Roth hits.

“Rock of Ages,” Oct. 23-28 at the Wang The­atre. Tick­ets: $25 - $95, bochcen­ter.org.


GET­TING IN TUNE: An­thony Nuccio and Katie LaMark star in ‘Rock of Ages,’ play­ing at the Wang The­atre, Oct. 23-28.

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