I can’t fight this feeling: “Rock of Ages” is as much fun as a barrel of drunken monkeys. Yes, it’s another jukebox musical, perhaps the first on Broadway to truly deserve the moniker, featuring songs by dozens of bands, mostly of the ’80 hair metal variety. And sure, it’s aimed squarely at an even rowdier set of straight boys than the nerds that flocked to “Spamalot.” But bookwriter Chris D’Arienzo and director Kristin Hanggi have injected enough wit, good humor and plain old silliness into their simple boy-meets-girl plot to keep all but the most thoroughly old-fashioned entertained.
And it’s more gay than I expected it to be (this is Broadway, after all). Not too far into the show there are already gay whiffs in the air—who’s that Michael Urie-lookin’ mofo in the bowtie spinning around the pole in the opening number? And why does our high-energy narrator Lonny (the hilariously deranged Mitchell Jarvis) flounce a bit and occasionally launch into ballet moves? These hints are resolved in unexpected and emotionally satisfying ways in Act II.
On balance, I’d recommend “Rock of Ages”—it isn’t as innovative as “Spring Awakening” or as moving as “Hair” but it rocks as sincerely as either of those, has a good heart and offers a lot of goofy fun. And what’s wrong with that?