Music has the magic ability to transport you back to a different time and place. That kind of nostalgia stems from familiarity with the songs and how much they meant during another era. That's what Rock of Ages set out to do when it debuted some years ago, bringing together the avid fans of yesteryear with an adoring new generation with an equally deep appreciation for the classic rock as part of their cultural landscape.
That's why, when the show announced a one-night reunion from the show, pulling from three different casts, I knew I had to be there. I had seen the show back in 2010 and recalled just how lively the crowd got, singing along, standing up from their seats, and dancing to the beat of the '70s and '80s. Monday night at the Highline Ballroom brought everyone back there once more.
To some degree, this was the perfect way to honor the music and the Broadway show. Twenty or so cast members return for one evening to casually but adeptly recall the lyrics and tiniest of jokes that went into the production. They all effortlessly travel back in time, the music from one era and their choreography and camaraderie from another, more recent one. You got the sense that no only was this a fun show to put on, but the actors -- presumably composed of Broadway geeks -- longed for their moment in the spotlight as rock stars.
When they weren't performing, the cast blended into the crowd, catching up and nursing drinks. Many sang along, too, from the floor. Because so many actors turned out, in some cases with multiple of them for one "part," they shared the microphone, never in competition with one another. Their passion for the music came most alive during ensemble tunes, when it seemed like cast members who weren't expected to be on the stage snuck up there anyway to help provide backup vocals. Nobody wanted to miss out.