Where do professional rockers rock? That’s what I asked the cast of Rock of Ages, who rock Broadway eight times a week. Find out where they go and why on their one night off, before the show, and when the curtain comes down. Here’s our list: Where They Rock Off-The-Clock.
Every rose has its thorn, every town has its rebel, and when it comes to the Great White Way, Rock of Ages is it. Flanked with a panties-covered set, a cast with amazingly toned abs, and a score full of the best ‘80s songs, this powerhouse Broadway musical defies the conventional stay-in-your-seat theatergoing experience, and transforms it into a sex-soaked rock concert that melds sincerity with parody; beer and shots are proffered in the aisles, rock posters dress the walls, and audience revelry is encouraged and inevitable. This bad boy breaks the rules, and it’s working; in its fourth year, Rock of Ages is selling better than ever. This month, it served its one-millionth customer, and has consistently been one of Broadway’s top 10 most-attended shows this year.
Of course, there are questions: How? Why? What is its mystical secret?
I sat down with two stars of the show to try to unlock these very questions: Jeremy Woodard – who plays Stacee Jaxx, the near-washed up, wild rock star – and Justin Matthew Sargent, who plays Drew, the aspiring rock star.
Apart from the music, what do you think people love about this show?
Jeremy Woodard: There’s something nostalgic about the ‘80s. Seeing as the economy is where it’s at, this show lets you just kick back and enjoy. There’s no drama – everything is said in jest. And when things are bad out there, you need to laugh a lot.
Justin Matthew Sargent: The story, too. It’s not your usual rags-to-riches tale. The characters start with a dream, until they realize the reality of it and that it’s not the kind of life they want to lead. They reevaluate and find new dreams in it all.
JW: The show doesn’t take itself too seriously. At all.
Unlike other jukebox musicals that stick to just one band’s music, Rock of Ages features the songs from a bunch of different ‘80s artists – Poison, Twisted Sister, Journey – attracting all the fans that come with them. That’s a pretty brilliant, commercial concept.
JMS: Oh, totally.The fans go nuts for this show. It’s all built-in. And even though it’s ‘80s rock music and a niche kind of thing, you have a lot of versatility – you’ve got your power ballads, your songs that kick ass, sweet songs like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” There are so many different genres that make up ‘80s rock. And the coolest thing is when the people from those bands come to see the show.
What rock stars have been in the audience?
JMS: We’ve had Journey come to see the show, Phil Collins. We had Dee Snider in the show for a little while, and he’s just the nicest. I was such a big fan of his before we worked with him, and still am.
Jeremy, since you play Stacee Jaxx, the magnetic, women-obsessed rocker, do you receive any crazy emails, dirty underwear, etc. from fans?
JW: Thankfully, no dirty underwear. When I had Facebook, I used to get crazy messages that crossed the line, so I bowed out. There hasn’t been anyone that’s been scary. We sometimes get weird letters, but the girls get stuff more than we do.
JMS: Fans make us food all the time though – lots of cookies. They’ve also made real dolls out of us.
JW: Early on, our original Stacee – James Carpinello – had a lady come out and ask him to sign her shoulder as Stacee Jaxx, and then she got it tattooed afterward. She still comes around every now and then. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
What a souvenir. I’ve heard there are fans that have seen this show over 250 times.
JW: Oh yeah. I ask people sometimes how they can afford to see it that often. I like Krispy Kreme, but I don’t think I can eat that many donuts.
Last night I went on a blind date that Steve Lewis put together. By put together, I mean he came up with the awesome idea of entering me, his editor, into an auction benefitting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and plotting and writing about the date and highest bidder in his column. The moment he declared this to the world in a post, my stock instantly went up 500 points which, in the high-stakes bidding world means $500.
So last night, the moment finally arrived when I would meet my generous suitor: Craig Clemens, a worldly, smart, modest guy who, quite shockingly, was not a serial killer. I was thrilled. The place: the Helen Hayes Theatre to see Rock of Ages, the ‘80s rock Broadway musical full of sex and yelling and beer and amazingly toned abs. We had a ball, talked during intermission about our life’s pursuits, and hopped in a Uber ride that arrived the moment the grand finale of “Don’t Stop Believing” came to its end.
Our next destination: Hotel Chantelle, where Craig finally met Steve Lewis. Despite my deep love for and closeness to Steve, I will forever refer to him as the full “Steve Lewis,” because he is a man deserving of a grand title and everything good in the world. Craig and Steve hit it off over a bottle of delicious Beau Joie Champagne which only I drank because 1. Craig is on his annual 30-day cleanse, God help him and 2. Steve gets drunk from three sips and this is a fact. So I got tipsy pretty quickly, which happened at the perfect time for a female knife swallower – one of the acts at Hotel Chantelle’s beloved The Love Show, a variety/burlesque show full of over-talented performers – to take to the stage and ask for an assistant. But being the business-savvy, considerate NY woman she is, she’d only hand over the position to the person who would hand over the most amount of money to donate toward the Hurricane Sandy relief. So Steve and Craig pitched in, Craig walked up to the woman, handed her the money, and pointed directly at me, the alleged “benefactor.”
So she lead me up on stage and did the requisite “What’s your name? Say it into the mic” routine, all while Steve Lewis yelled from the black, “THEY’RE ON A BLIND DATE THEY’RE ON A BLIND DATE.” Within three minutes, she had an entire 12-inch knife down her throat and me pulling it out of her. I credit Beau Joie for this hyperventilation-free moment.
After this, Steve Lewis started DJing some tunes that made the crowd go absolutely nuts, and Craig and I looked on with pride, like a mother with her child, or maybe that was just me. Craig suggested we get some food, so we left and headed to our next destination: Blue Ribbon. By 2am, we were devouring their best dishes – the bone marrow and fried chicken – alongside some spicy fish soup. The conversation very easily continued, but I can’t tell you what it was because my brain shut down after my first bite of chicken wing dipped in truffle honey sauce. Now I have lost my place.
Anyway, we walked out, I hailed a cab, and we talked about going to a party Steve Lewis is hosting at an undisclosed location next Thursday night. It involves six ballrooms. Craig and I hugged, and I was in bed by 3am, thanking Beau Joie for having no added sugar so I have a guaranteed no-headache situation today.
Yes, I did text him today and thanked him for bidding and being such a cool guy and not a serial killer. He said that while he had a blast, even Ted Bundy probably came across as cool at first, which is a good point. So the jury is still out on this one. To be decided at a later date.
It turns out Tom Cruise’s secret to looking eternally young doesn’t come in a jar… it comes out the back end of a songbird. Cruise has recently copped to getting pricey $200 treatments done as a natural alternative to cosmetic surgery. "Tom doesn’t go in for Botox or surgery but he does pay close attention to all the new and popular natural treatments,” reveals a source close to the actor. "He recently started experimenting with the nightingale poo facial. It was recommended by a Hollywood pal and the results have been fantastic."
After all, getting shat on by a bird is considered good luck, right? At least it’s a hell of a lot cheaper. These days, it isn’t uncommon to see spa offerings in salons that can practically double as a trip to the zoo. If that isn’t killing two pooping birds with one stone, we don’t know what is.
Bird Poop Facials
Commonly called the “Geisha Facial,” this skin treatment has been used by Japanese women and Victoria Beckham for hundreds of years (how else does she stay so vampyrically young?). The formulation contains one key ingredient: nightingale droppings. Rich in urea and guanine, the droppings help give the lucky lady/lad an iridescent glow that only bird poop could give. Mixed with rice bran, the droppings, which are sterilized with an ultraviolet light, creates a doughy-soft scrub that goes on as smooth as shit, literally. At $180 a poop, this shit doesn’t come cheep!
Dead Skin-Eating "Doctor Fish"
Finally, a way to make your skin smoother AND feed your hungry pet fish! The Garra Rufa fish, commonly known in spa circles as the “doctor fish,” are native to Northern and Central Middle East (Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq) and just loooove feasting on your gross dead skin. The fish were originally used to treat patients with psoriasis and eczema and were effective as they only removed the affected layer of skin. But, they were then exploited and marketed as a miraculous, natural skin treatment for Upper East Side housewives sick of asking their philandering hubbies for foot massages. But wait… as it turns out, the fish don’t actually eat the skin off your ashy feet, but only resort to that after being deprived of food, forcing them to take up the skin-sloughing activities in search for grub. If that isn’t wild labor, I don’t know what is.
African Snail Facials
Blame it on the French: slowly but surely, snails have slimed their way to the top of the beauty roster as the “it” facial treatment. Apparently, snail slime contains a naturally potent potion of glycolic acid and elastin and makes acne, scars, burns and spots es-car-go-away. The procedure involves letting African snails take a leisurely stroll all over the patient’s face, leaving a nice, slimy ooze that apparently heals skin and gives you a youthful, shiny-snail complexion. No wonder Sponge Bob never dries out; he let Gary crawl all over his face!
Slitering Snake Spa Sessions
Eve had it good: who knew that snakes would actually turn out to be master masseuses? At a spa in northern Israel, snakes slither across each patron’s back or belly, whatever the preference. The experience is described to be like “caressing fingers” and repeat customers claim the treatment helps to “ease migraines and sore muscles.” Just don’t give these snakes a tip: they’d prefer a fresh rat over cold hard cash any day.
Bull Semen Conditioner
The latest rage in hair treatment involves a cock-and-bull process of putting pure, fresh bull semen into your hair as a conditioning treatment. The 45-minute process is said to leave hair “looking wonderfully soft and thick,” according to Hari Salem, a salon owner who said the treatment has attracted plenty of customers. “Allthe best treatments are protein based. Synthetic treatments are good but they are heavy if you have fine hair and can make it look greasy. In the end, the bull’s sperm was the winner.” Sure it might work, but what are you going to tell your friends when they ask what conditioner you use? Our answer: “Oh, bullshit."
That’s My Boy already looked terrible from the poster, but bad Photoshop alone couldn’t have accounted for its performance at the box office this weekend. Despite Adam Sandler’s perpetual stardom, the co-vehicle for Andy Samberg opened in fifth place, with earnings of only $13 million dollars. Vulture reports that this makes That’s My Boy Sandler’s lowest-performing opening weekend for a comedy in 15 years.
Meanwhile, America’s interest in Tom Cruise playing novelty roles seems to have diminished. Rock of Ages didn’t come out on top, either, opening in third place with $15.1 million. The Cruise-helmed classic rock musical didn’t quite find its voice, or its audience.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted remained on top with $35.5 million, while Prometheus came in second with $20.2 million. Snow White and the Huntsman rounded out the top five, just passing That’s My Boy with $13.8 million.
We can now continue to have a little more faith in American moviegoers.
Surely those who are fans of ’80s hairbands aren’t who you’d expect to be checking out a Broadway matinee on a Saturday afternoon. But that didn’t stop the creative team behind Rock of Ages, however, from creating a jukebox musical full of songs by Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi, Poison, among others. The frontman of Twisted Sister, Dee Snider, even spent a few months performing in the show last year. It’s a bona fide hit, and has been running continuously since April 2009. So naturall,y that would make it perfect for a movie musical, right?
Below is the first official trailer for the movie version of Rock of Ages, which appears to be your dad’s answer to your mom’s favorite movie, Mamma Mia! Of course, that presupposes that your father has terrible taste in movies and enjoys watered down versions of pretty terrible karaoke songs sung by A-list actors.
It sort of looks like This Is Spinal Tap, but without the (intentional) laughs. There’s Alec Baldwin practically Skyping it in as a club promoter. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who’s got an Oscar and a Tony for her musical background, appears to be a Tammy Faye Bakker-type (only sexy and without the iconic eye make-up) leading a group of fundamentalist church ladies (and at least one nun) against the genre of toned-down pop metal before immediately performing a unironic "We’re Not Gonna Take It." And Mary J. Blige, what were you thinking? Did you miss the boat when Dreamgirls came around? And then there’s Tom Cruise, who, if you remember anything about Top Gun (beyond the homoeroticism), cannot sing:
I say this as someone who loves Broadway musicals and "Sister Christian": this movie will be the worst.
If this was 2001, Tom Cruise appearing as an ’80s cock-rocker in a movie based on a Broadway musical in a role that wasn’t even the lead, would have been blasphemy. Back then, he was Mr. Movie Star, starring in Spielberg flicks and shacking up with Penelope Cruz. Not a bad life if you can hack it. But then, he jumped on a couch and made one bad film, and suddenly, it was curtains (by his standards). Now, it’s a fact of life that Cruise will never reach the career heights he achieved a decade ago, which has freed him up to do whatever the hell he wants. Exhibit A, B, C, and D: His role in the Rock of Ages movie as alpha rock star Stacee Jaxx, for which we now have our first official look.
Yep, that’s Tom Cruise, devil horns pointed skyward, wig flailing, and fake tattoos covering that shirtless upper bod we’ve come to know and love over the years. Is it a silly picture? Yes. Do we care? No, because we’re Tom Cruise fans. Aren’t you?
Ever since I read and wrote about The New Yorker’s expose of Scientology, I’ve half-expected Tom Cruise to surprise me in the night with a gang of Samurai-suited henchmen, and lock me indefinitely in some secret location for my sins again L. Ron Hubbard. So I was relieved to hear that Cruise is keeping busy with his acting career, and probably doesn’t have time to partake in such kidnapping ventures (Besides, he’s done enough kidnapping for one week). I was also excited to hear that Cruise will be playing a Bon Jovi-esque rock star in the forthcoming film adaptation of the Broadway show, Rock of Ages, because he is completely unsuited to the role and it should be hilarious.
I mean, seriously, who could be less rock and roll than Tom Cruise? Sure, he’ll be good at the macho, womanizing aspect, the pelvic thrusts and leather jacket-wearing. And yeah, he lip-synced like a bad mother in Risky Business all those years ago. But by this point Cruise can only successfully play parodies of himself: comically psychotic repressed homosexuals whose eerie, glowing eyes betray violent rape fantasies. Actually, now that I think about it, he’s the perfect rock star.
Jack Black fanatics, have I got a show for you. Rock of Ages, the just-off-Broadway musical homage to Reagan-era rock-outs features the Greatest Jack Black Impersonation of All Time. I’m not kidding. Constantine Maroulis (a fourth-season American Idol finalist), may be the show’s “star,” but Mitchell Jarvis is the star. No doubt Jarvis is consciously aping Black’s bug-eyed rocker persona to play Lonny, the show’s postmodern narrator (he’s constantly reminding us we’re watching a musical), but he does it flawlessly. He also resembles Black enough that, I thought it was the comedy superstar himself at the New World Stages, acting alongside the guy who finished sixth on American Idol.
Funny, because Kyle Gass, Black’s partner in Tenacious D, had a role in the show’s LA run, but had to leave to record the new D album. It’s too bad, because seeing Gass on stage with off-Broadway Jack Black would have been a hoot. The show goes down on the seedier side of LA’s Sunset Strip circa 1986, and it features the kind of boy-meets-girl story that’s hard to not even get the slightest wee bit attached to — especially when the story’s told through the classic lyrics and hooks from hair-metal bands like Journey, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Styx, and Twisted Sister. But again, it’s
Jack Black Mitchell Jarvis, with his dancing eyebrows and extreme pronunciation, that’ll have you rubbing your eyes.
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