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Interview:
"Rock of Ages" moving from stage to screen
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

At the start of the musical “Rock of Ages,” the taped voice of Whitesnake/Deep Purple singer David Coverdale takes a good-natured shot at Def Leppard for not letting the show use any of its music — specifically the 1983 hit that gave the production its name.

The tune changed when “Rock of Ages” headed to the big screen, however.

Def Leppard has indeed given the thumbs-up for its songs to be part of the soundtrack for the film, due to open June 15. The full list of tunes hasn’t been revealed, but guitarist Phil Collen says “a bunch of our songs” will be in the film. Frontman Joe Elliott adds the group is definitely happy about that.

“When they asked us for ‘Rock of Ages’ (the musical) and we saw that it was basically what you might call a ‘hair metal’ collection of songs, we just thought, ‘Nah, don’t really want to be bagged with that kind of thing,” Elliott explains. “So we said, ‘Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.’ At the time we thought, ‘We don’t know whether we really want to be interested in this.’

“You make these decisions on the spur of the moment. Sometimes you make good ones, sometimes you make bad ones. We’ve put our music in movies — some bad ones. Someone approaches us and says, ‘Christopher Walken’s in the film.’ Well, that’s pretty cool. Then you see the resulting film and it’s like, ‘You’ve got to be ... kidding me!’ “

“Rock of Ages” producer Carl Levin says there was actually “a handshake agreement” with the band to use “Rock of Ages” as the show’s closing song before the musical opened. “Then the band replaced its management in the middle of our process and said, ‘No, we don’t want to be in the musical,’ ” Levin recalls. “Since then they came back and said, ‘Yeah, we’d love to be involved,’ which we were happy about.”

And Elliott says there are no hard feelings about the Coverdale comment in the show.

“Fair play to them if they want to take a dig,” he says. “I heard they did it with good humor, so that doesn’t bother me.”

The “Rock of Ages” film, directed by Adam Shankman, reportedly takes some liberties with Michigan-born playwright Chris D’Arienzo’s story of two youths — Michiganian Drew Dillenbeck and Sherrie Christian — who journey to Los Angeles seeking fame on Sunset Strip, while a mayor and real estate investor hatch plans to undermine the homegrown music scene with a new commercial development.

Julianne Hough plays Sherrie and Diego Boneta plays Drew, while Tom Cruise steps in as rock star Stacee Jaxx.

The film cast also includes Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, Mary J. Blige and Russell Brand. Constantine Maroulis, the “American Idol” finalist who played Drew on Broadway and in the first touring company, will make a cameo as a record executive.

“Rock of Ages” runs Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 21-26, at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $35-$90. Call 313-872-1000 or visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com

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