Before you read on, watch this Rock Of Ages performance from tonight's Tony Awards. You'll be oh-so-glad you did:
OK, now. A few years ago, I was cordially and rockin'-ly invited to a preview performance of Rock Of Ages, a nostalgic rock opera featuring music from the big '80s era of big hair and big riffs. Man, I couldn't RSVP "yes" fast enough. C'mon, a Broadway musical featuring the classic headbanging hitz of Poison, Ratt, and Whitesnake? Dood, what was not to like?
Well, actually, there was a LOT not to like. Rock Of Ages just did not, well, ROCK. I dunno, I thought that seeing a chorus line of spandex-sheathed, haystack-haired Sunset Strip metal groupies high-kicking their way through Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" would make for a totally awesome night of theater. But I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Somehow, something was just missing...
...and hey, you know what Rock Of Ages was missing, specifically? CONSTANTINE MAROULIS!!
See, Rock Of Ages protagonist "Drew" was truly the role Constantine was BORN to play: the part of a struggling musician who journeys to the big, bad city of Hollywood with a headful of both Aqua-Net and dreams of rock stardom. Dreams that are soon crushed, of course, "Welcome To The Jungle"-style. Hey, sort of like Constantine's through-to-Hollywood dream of being the next American Idol was crushed, huh? So it's no wonder he gave such a convincing, Tony-nominated performance.
Yes, that's right: Tonight CONSTANTINE WAS NOMINATED FOR A TONY, for Best Leading Actor In A Musical. Sadly, that dream too was crushed, when he lost out to THREE kids playing the titular Billy Elliot role. (Doesn't that seem unfair? There were three of them!) But in a way, Constantine still won, because the performance above is THE 2009 Tony Awards moment everyone will be gabbing about around the watercooler tomorrow (well, that and the Bret Michaels incident, of course). Billy who?
"I think it's the kind of material that stays with you," Constantine told Rolling Stone when Rock Of Ages first began its Broadway run earlier this year. (Incidentally, Constantine was also in the musical-theater version of The Wedding Singer, so he's an old pro at this Broadway-goes-totally-'80s shtick.) "Those songs always stay with you, but it was nice to invite them back into my life. And sort of look at them from a different point of view and see which bands have survived and have been relevant."
Well, judging from the totally radical clip above, one of Constantine's most relevant moments in Rock Of Ages is when he belts out Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock." Let's face it, if only he'd sung that on American Idol during season 4's "21st Century Week" instead of the throwaway Nickelback song he foolishly went with, maybe he wouldn't have been eliminated. I know I would have speed-dialed his voting number with all the nimble-fingeredness of the greatest '80s metal guitar shredder ever, had he performed anything from the Dee Snider songbook with this much scenery-chewing gusto.
And if only he'd been the one singing all these hard rock hits the night I went to see Rock Of Ages in L.A. years ago, I would have had a MUCH better night at the opera.
Constantine, you were robbed tonight. But hey, don't stop believin'...
- Rock Of Ages
- Tony Awards