Don't stop believin'. The second act is better than the first.
Not that that's a ringing endorsement.
"Rock of Ages," a jukebox musical that blew into the Orpheum on an unseasonably warm March evening Tuesday, will work just fine if you're looking for a fairly raunchy nostalgia trip down 1980s Hair-Band Lane.
Never have I seen so many thrusting pelvises in so many numbers in one show.
It will also work if you just want to laugh and have a good time. A couple of gifted comedians in supporting roles pretty much stole the show, along with a score packed with rock-radio hits by bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Whitesnake and Poison.
But if you're looking for a plot with a shred of originality, or strong writing, or even the thinnest of themes to take away with you, don't look here. No awards for scenery either.
Thing is, this is a cast that I swear could sell deep freezes to Eskimos.
At Tuesday's curtain call, the audience of about 1,950 didn't just stand and cheer. It roared.
It roared for tall, handsome Dominique Scott as Drew, a young singer-songwriter who comes to the Bourbon Room rock club in L.A. with dreams of grandeur. (Great voice with impressive range, by the way.)
It roared for even taller, handsome Matt Nolan as Stacee Jaxx, frontman for a megahit band that's falling apart.
It especially roared for Justin Colombo as Lonny, the club's sound man who doubles as the show's narrator. Colombo made laughs out of thin air with his physical schtick, shrewd line readings and impeccable comedic timing.
The crowd may have yelled loudest for blond boy-next-door Stephen Michael Kane, who turned a throw-away role into hilariously entertaining comic relief. Kane plays Franz, the fey (but not gay) son of a German developer who wants to tear down the Bourbon Room and replace it with chain stores.
Kane stops the show when Franz finally stands up to his domineering, abusive dad, singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." In a Lycra body suit. With glitter.
The singers are backed up by a rockin' five-piece band that stays onstage all night.
Both chorus and principal actors give the show their all, including some sharp and energetic dancing on big hits like "Here I Go Again on My Own," "We Built This City" and "Don't Stop Believin'." Other hits get short shrift as tantalizing fragments of songs yield to moving the clothesline plot along.
The nostalgia isn't limited to the music. Denim miniskirts, skin-tight ripped or stone-washed jeans, lots of pot smoking and head after head of big hair trip memories of the Reagan era.
The show also pours on the lights and a more or less steady stream of smoke and fog. They can't quite obscure what thin material this is.
Ah, well. Every rose has its thorn. The crowd, which looked a bit younger than your average Orpheum musical audience, forgave all the show's shortcomings, lapping up the rock hits and lifting up the inspired comic bits with peals of laughter.
The 2½-hour show runs through Sunday, with seats left for all performances.
Contact the writer: