Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Musical Review: Rock of Ages in Calgary

80s rock: also known as hair metal, glam metal and the music library used to source the soundtrack for Rock of Ages the Broadway musical.  The idea of a 'rock musical' seems like a recipe for try-hard disaster, but for some reason it works...if you have a cast that can actually belt the rock songs as required. Unfortunately for this show...

Rock of Ages rolled into Calgary for the start of its short 5 day run at the Jube. I am sure the members of the cast got off the bus into the blizzard that has overtaken our city and thought, "What great hell have we stepped into?!" ...and then they tried to sing their power ballads and realized that the high altitude is going to totally screw their vocals.

I am assuming that this is what happened, because that is the only excuse I can give to the cast for having such sub-par performances. The only person that defied the odds was the woman who played the strip club owner - and I would say by just looking at her that the odds were in her favour to begin with. Everyone else's voice conked out at one point or another - falling flat and straight up straining to survive to the end of songs. Pain. The actors who played Drew and Sherry were by far the worst offenders of my ear torture, but they were also singing far more frequently than their counterparts.

Well, I'm glad I got that out of the way. The vocal bashing I mean...I haven't touched on the technical side of the sound, which also could have used major work. There were points that I couldn't hear what the actors were saying and moments in the songs where they were completely drown out by the band. This could again be contributed to the altitude - but COME ON. They have sound guys for a reason and the weather does not effect your fingers adjusting sound levels.

The show wasn't a complete bust. Up to this point you are probably thinking, "How could it not be?" I'm just saying don't expect to go to the show to hear Pat Benatar reincarnated because you will be very VERY disappointed.

There were shining moments, as are in any show. Show stealer song was Can't Fight This Feeling sung by the characters Dennis and Lonny, but only because it was combined with humour. Show stealer acts Lonny for comedic enjoyment (host/bar worker), Justice for vocal consistency (strip club owner) and of course my favorite Franz for being plain old f-cking awesome (he's not gay he's just German). The sets were also functional and gritty as the show required...there is nothing like staring at "Live Nude" neon signs all night.

Overall the show was fun (for adults - keep your kids at home) and pretty light hearted. I unfortunately was basing my expectation of the show on the movie that came out earlier this year - which had stellar vocal performances and not much of anything else. With this show the strengths are flipped and I was left confused and slightly irritated that, in a world where so many people want to be on stage, they couldn't find belters to really give these songs the representation they deserved.

Verdict: 3.0 Stars


1 comment:

  1. Agree totally with your comments. I saw the original Broadway show in New York and it was awesome. So while I didn't expect as good a show as the original, I certainly expected better than what we got.


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