The nature of success for a Broadway musical has remained quite the same since the advent of film. First, a show makes to Broadway and sells out, quickly recouping the producers’ investment. Then a national tour is launched. In the post-Lion King world of big budget theater this means that the Broadway show and the tour run concurrently. Add a West End run and then all this leads to a big budget production of a different kind, the kind that graces the silver screen. War Horse quickly concluded along these lines, but it now has Broadway brethren (or perhaps a cousin, since War Horse conquered the London before crossing the Atlantic) in the Rock of Ages.
Yes, the Rock of Ages debuted recently and appears to be the second sign of Tom Cruise’s return to legitimacy as a movie star (the first being Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Now, in addition to the option to purchase Rock of Ages tickets for the Broadway production at Hayes Theatre, the West End production at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and the second national tour, fans of the 1980s rock, musical theater, and star studded casts will be able to rock out in air conditioned movieplexes across the nation come June 1, 2012.
While, it is important Broadway brag about the superiority of a live show, it is difficult to be underwhelmed by this cast. Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough play the protagonists and star-crossed lovers Drew Boley and Sherrie Christian. They are not he draw though. Rather it is Tom Cruise as cocky, ridiculous Stacee Jaxx, Alec Baldwin as aging rock venue owner Dennis, Russell Brand as Lonnie, Bryan Cranston as the Mayor of Los Angeles, Catherine Zeta-Jones as the Mayor’s wife and rock concert antagonist, and Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s manager that will bring in the crowds.
It appears the film took liberties with the plot, nixing the German investors and going the anti-fun league route. This is not necessarily disconcerting, but at least offers a slight deviation from the live stage version.
Ok, so here is the scary thing. I do not know which version I am going to prefer. Rock of Ages takes on rock and roll during the stadium glam rock era, so perhaps the story will play out better on a big screen. Certainly Cruise has demonstrated he can capture an over-the-top character like Stacee Jaxx. Add Alec Baldwin being Alec Baldwin and is difficult to hate on the Hollywood adaptation.