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July 26, 2010 - by Griffin Miller

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You’ve already hit the retro highway with tickets for Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia!, Million Dollar Quartet and Jersey Boys and yet (more likely ‘because of’) you find yourself jonesing for bigger doses of vintage jukebox musical satisfaction. Don’t lose Heart, Power Balladz will be arriving Off-Broadway on August 5th with a belt-a-thon of rock music, hi-res video images, a romantic storyline, and some highly interactive pre- and post-show antics (game show trivia; live-band karaoke). As the website proclaims, “If Spinal Tap, Howard Stern, and American Idiot had a big ugly baby, it’d be named Power Balladz.”

For me, Power Balladz is a sort of companion piece to Rock of Ages with their overlapping homage to ’80s rock laced with irreverent humor, not to mention all the standard trimmings (i.e., big hair, denim, leather and airborne arms waving lighters).

A Quasi-Rad Tutorial (Micro-Culled From The Website Known As PowerBalladz.com)

1) In order for a song to qualify as a Power Ballad, both the song and the band creating the song must Rock. Now, Rocking can be interpreted in many ways -- some people prefer the flame from a lighter swaying to and fro. Others prefer a face melting, head-banging onslaught of rage...

2) ...The song is a slow burner, a juggernaut of feelings -- deep, heartfelt, mysterious...feelings. One might call such a song a “Ballad.” The Power part of the equation comes through via the band’s musical delivery and the ideas conveyed through the lyrics...

3) The song must also include certain stylistic elements of Rock...Electric guitars are fairly important. Drums, bass, generally highly pitched vocals, and a keyboard...are also key...If a song contains too many synthesizers, or makes you feel like you just drank two-and-a-half-month-old milk, it is disqualified...

4) There must be, at some point during the song, an uncontrollable urge to take out your lighter..., light it, and hold it aloft for all to see... [It should be noted], the time period for Power Balladz is primarily the ’80s. But there are arguments to be made for some songs of the late ’70s and maybe the early ’90s...” [Sorry, Jersey Boys/Four Seasons: too early...too smooth...too kempt...not that that’s a bad thing.]

In short, the gloves are off: it’s time to tap into your extreme gene and parlay your love for Styx, Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, Queen, etc. into one awesome rockin’ night on the town.

Post-Millennium Tip: Should your jukebox musical passions skew a bit more 21st century, I recommend you head over to Green Day’s American Idiot, the monster of a rock musical featuring Tony winner John Gallagher, Jr. that’s currently tearing up the stage of Broadway’s St. James Theatre. (Did I mention I love, love, love this show?) Definitely a must-see…and see again.

Elsewhere on Broadway, A Little Night Music, the hit Sondheim revival that brought Catherine Zeta-Jones her Broadway debut (and a Lead Actress in a Musical Tony) while bringing multi-Tony winning Angela Lansbury back to her favorite stomping grounds, has two other high-profile divas stepping into their roles: Bernadette Peters as Desiree and Elaine Stritch as Madame Armfeldt. Notably, Peters and Stritch are known for their work with Sondheim’s music. Peters, for Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods, and Stritch for playing Joanne in the original cast of Company.


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