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Rock of Ages Keeps Rollin' and Rollin' with On Location Tours

by Rich and Laura Lynch

If this was scriptural times you could say American Idol begat Rock of Ages and together they inspired Glee. Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is true. There is much music, television and film history in New York.

ROCK OF AGES Keeps Rollin'

In 2009, the Rock of Ages production emerged strong on the strength of A.I. contestant Constantine Maroulis' star power and was nominated for five Tony Awards. Since then, Rock of Ages has enjoyed a national tour and versions of the show in London and Australia. The story is now set to become a major motion picture so you can see how things are rolling on nicely for the cast, crew and creators.

With Constanine on the road with the traveling show Rock of Ages has moved to the smaller Helen Hayes Theater in New York City to begin its second act on Broadway. On Monday, August 22, 2011 we were transported back to the late 1980's when we witnessed Rock of Ages - the tale of Drew from South Detroit and Sherrie - a small town girl in pursuit of their dreams and love.

If this all sounds like a Journey or Steve Perry song - it's not by coincidence. "Don't Stop Believin'" is just one of twenty-eight tracks featured in and woven into this production based on - and inspired by - the music of the 80's.

The story unfolds on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California. As the curtain rose we saw the ornate Helen Hayes Theater plastered with 80's concert bills and the stage was set with the world-famous Hollywood sign in the distance. The stage also doubled as a streetscape with a strip club and the interior of The Bourbon Room bar set with a stage and musical paraphernalia on the walls. The place appeared to be a magnet for would be stars such as Drew "I Wanna Rock" and Sherrie the actress.

Dan Domenech was a convincing Drew and confident in the role Maroulis made famous. Rebecca Faulkenberry was fervent as the forlorn yet hopeful Sherrie. Together, their romance was one of a number of storylines creatively illustrated by hit songs of the period. Lonny the narrator told the tales that unfolded through a montage of dance and music numbers. Lonny was outrageous with his funny commentary and occasional flirtations with folks in the audience.

In the meantime, German developers Hertz and his son Franz (who had some sweet dreams of his own) have convinced the city's mayor that the Sunset Strip should be cleaned up, which includes demolishing The Bourbon Room owned by Dennis Dupree. Dennis - a hippie among the big hair 80's - crowd decides to host a fund raising concert to save his bar.

Dupree contacts Stacee Jaxx and his band Arsenal to play their last gig at The Bourbon Room before Stacee the "star" pursues a solo career (sounds familiar). Van Halen came to our minds as Jaxx was blond and carried himself like a garrulous David Lee Roth. Jaxx and his big ego threw a curve at Drew and Sherrie's relationship with Stacee also getting Sherrie fired.

Dennis is not the only one fighting the redevelopment. Another hippie type named Regina led sequences of protests throughout the play using Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" as one of her rallying calls.

Act I closed with Drew meeting the Sleazy Producer the night of the Arsenal concert and receiving a record deal. Sherrie taking a job as an exotic dancer, Regina protesting the redevelopment and Dennis with sideman Lonny trying to find a way to keep The Bourbon Room open.

Act 2 opened with much uncertainty for the main characters but through a series of racey rockers including "The Final Countdown", "High Enough", "I Hate Myself For Loving You/Heat Of The Moment", "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" much was resolved by the energizing ending.

Rock of Ages was a spectrum of 80's songs, sexy dancing and storylines that are timeless. As told in the play the decade was decadent and full of big hair. Thanks to the rock solid success of this show and its expanding franchise - the curiosity of glam rock will live on forever through Rock of Ages - the movie and musical!

Speaking of television and movies there's a fantastic tour that will take you to many great sights in the city. While on it - we spotted where the Glee second season finale was filmed and where they made a Tina Turner video back in the 80's. We saw a lot more, too!

The great thing about seeing a play or concert in New York City is that you can make a full day of it. There are numerous things for tourists and tri-staters to do in the Big Apple such as On Location Tours - New York TV and Movie Sites. The three hour plus bus tour starts near Broadway and 51st Street at 11 a.m. The tour takes you through a wide range of neighborhoods including Chelsea , Flatiron, Midtown, Soho, Times Square and the Village.

Riders will visit a lengthy list of locations associated with well-known movies and TV shows including 30 Rock, Friends and King Kong. The tours are conducted by actors and actresses who share tips on getting into shows and trivia. Our ride was hosted by Roseanne Almanzar a native New Yorker overflowing with enthusiasm for her city and the entertainment industry. She sang a revised version of the Gilligan's Island theme geared towards the bus trip as Peter our able skipper took to the streets.

TV show themes were piped in on the bus and the narrative began with the fact that NYC is the most filmed city in the world. We saw a long list of film and TV locations. The buildings of celebrities and characters were also pointed out throughout the tour. The On Location bus had screens to play clips as the tour either passes or parks at the spot. It was fun to watch a scene filmed at Columbus Circle and than pass the same place.

During the tour there are a number of occasions to disembark the bus. The first stop was a short walk to Washington Square Park . Next was a 20 minute break in Soho where Roseanne gave snack suggestions. We also visited Hook & Ladder 8 (Ghost Busters), St Luke's (neighborhood of the Cosby family) and Bedford Street where establishment shots for Friends were taken. You will learn what an establishment shot is on the tour.

As advertised, anything can happen when your "On Location". In our travels we saw several production crews set-up and shooting. We actually caught a real-life glimpse of Tom Selleck filming the TV show Blue Bloods on the streets of New York . We drove past Millionaire Mile in Tribeca, which is currently the most expensive zip code in the USA. The tour concluded on 55th Street at McGee's Pub, which was the inspiration for MacLaren's Pub in How I Met Your Mother. On Location Tours - New York TV and Movie Sites was entertaining and educational and Roseanne was engaging! On Locations hosts other trips and destinations including a walking tour of Central Park.

ROCK OF AGES Keeps Rollin'
Scenes from our ON LOCATION tour!

Related Links: For more information on ROCK OF AGES and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- |

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