Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Rock of Ages" CD Review: A Great Platform for Constantine

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, you know that I’m a big fan of Constantine Maroulis.

So I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s now wowing audiences on Broadway in “Rock of Ages.” But sadly, a quick trip to New York to see the show is out of the question.

Thankfully for me—and all of the rest of us who can’t make the trip—we now have the Original Broadway Cast Recording, so I am finally able to confirm what I already knew. That Constantine was born to do this show…

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, “Rock of Ages” tells the love story of Drew (Constantine), a small-time LA rocker, and Sherrie (Amy Spanger), a small-town girl who moves to LA for stardom. Although they seem destined from the beginning, circumstances keep them apart, including Sherrie’s fling with big-time rocker, Stacee (James Carpinello). The story, which takes place in 1987, is set to the classic hair band songs of the 80s.

Now it would be easy to write “Ages” off as cheesy, because I know it certainly sounds that way. But it’s actually quite clever. You don’t just get an 80s jukebox here, as the songs are actually used to move the plot. I smiled on more than one occasion at the great way many of the songs were used.

“We Built This City” becomes the anthem for people against tearing down a rock club. “Wanted Dead or Alive” becomes the perfect way to introduce Stacee. “I Want to Know What Love Is” gets turned on its head into a bit of a seduction number. “Harden My Heart” and “Shadows of the Night” are turned into a medley to create a major turning point for Sherrie. “High Enough,” a song I’m not a big fan of, gets turned into a sweeping goosebump-inducing duet. “I Hate Myself For Loving You” gets combined with “Heat of the Moment” to make a great back and forth between Sherrie and Stacee. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is turned into a classic group number. “The Search Is Over” is turned into a gorgeous duet. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” gets a twist that you just wouldn’t expect. Even “Don’t Stop Believin’” gets a new spin as the entire cast gets involved.

Even though with the CD you can’t see what’s going on, it’s not long before you find yourself totally engrossed in the story. And the great cast does a fantastic job at sucking you in…

Rocking through all of it is the voice of Constantine, which was made to sing these songs. He’s eerily good on “Waiting For a Girl Like You,” but his big musical moment comes during “Oh Sherrie.” And he hits a note during “The Search Is Over”—one of my all-time faves—that totally took me by surprise. I have no idea about his acting since I haven’t seen the show, but his singing is definitely worthy of the Tony nomination he received.

In fact, if the Tonys were based on cleverness, there’s no way that “Ages” wouldn’t win. I have long thought it would be cool to take a bunch of my favorite songs, add some dialogue and turn it into some kind of musical. But there’s no way I could have done it as cleverly as this.

There will be some purists out there who don’t think their favorite songs belong in a Broadway musical, but I encourage you to have an open mind. I admit, I wrote it off as cheesy the first time I heard about it.

And honestly, some parts of it are cheesy. But they’re meant to be that way. I think it’s nice to hear something like this not take itself so seriously. The CD will definitely make you want to sing and dance along, as you’ll be totally into the music, even without all of the story.

It will also make all of you Constantine fans out there happy that he has truly found a great platform for his talent…

The “Rock of Ages” Original Broadway Cast Recording is available for download at iTunes and other digital sites now. The CD will hit stores July 7th…

Photo Credit: New Line Records