This month, we are in for a double treat as both the film and Philippine stage production of “Rock of Ages” are going to open on the same week.
The all-star cast of “Rock of Ages” led by Tom Cruise as flamboyant rock star Stacee Jaxx hits our local big screens on June 13.
Meanwhile, the all-star cast of “Rock of Ages” led by “Rockstar: INXS” alum Mig Ayesa playing the Stacee Jaxx role will start its two-month run at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza on June 15.
As some sort of a forgotten genre, the rock musical hasn’t seen this kind of renewed interest since its heyday in the ‘70s. Yes, the 1970s.
While it’s true that musicals per se have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts with such acclaimed flicks like “Moulin Rouge”, “Dreamgirls”, the Academy award-winning “Chicago” and most recently, “Mamma Mia”, none of them can actually be categorized as a rock musical per se or has a soundtrack that can clearly be distinguished as rock music.
We have to go back four decades to, yes, the ‘70s in order to appreciate the true-blue rock musicals as they were originally envisioned to be. Some of them were even classified as rock operas. Rock of ages they truly are.
5. “PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE”
Brian De Palma’s parody of “Phantom of the Opera” was not well-received by critics when it first came out in 1974 but has since become a cult classic, thanks to its glam rock soundtrack and over-the-top performances from Gerritt Graham as obnoxious rock star, Beef, William Finley as the Phantom and singer-songwriter Paul Williams as the evil record executive, Swan. A stage version that was planned sometime during the ‘80s never materialized, though.
Not to be confused with “Hairspray,” Milos Forman’s 1979 adaptation of the hit musical about the hippie generation and sexual revolution of the ‘60s yielded four popular hits in “Aquarius”, “Let The Sunshine In”, “Good Morning Starshine” and “Easy To Be Hard.”
Those songs, Forman’s direction and the fine performances from John Savage, Beverly D’ Angelo and Treat Williams make this such an enjoyable ride. It was last revived in 2010 at the London West End.
3. “JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR”
Unfavorably compared to the supposedly superior stage version and even with its nod to hippie and free spirits that feel rather dated, Norman Jewison’s 1973 film version has stood the test of time pretty well.
It certainly did not hurt that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have crafted what is arguably the most recognizable songs of their entire careers. Today, it’s still being staged everywhere in the world.
2. “THE ROCKY PICTURE HORROR SHOW”
There’s a reason why this cult classic from 1975 continues to hold the record for longest theatrical run of any movie ever. It’s that good and it’s that fun.
An engaged couple find themselves lost on their way home and end up in the castle of mysterious tenants headed by a cross-dressing scientist creating his own kind of Frankenstein. Even if that doesn’t make sense, the music should. Let’s do the time warp over and over again.
“That deaf, dumb and blind kid, sure plays a mean pinball.” The imaginative direction of the late Ken Russell brings the musical vision of The Who to a trippy reality in this 1975 reading.
A very young Elton John stands out in his single sequence as the Pinball Wizard. Ditto with the other artists that made up the cast such as Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Roger Daltrey as Tommy and as Tommy’s mother, Ann-Margret was nominated for an Academy award. Should be revived on stage again.