Broadway has had quite an infusion of shows with rock music the last few years. At last count, there were 8 - 9 shows featuing this genre of music. By coincidence, or perhaps design, nearly half of these shows are being performed on 44th Street.
There are 5 major Broadway theaters on W. 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Of those 5, four of them have shows that have to do with a rock theme. A fan of this genre could start with music representing the 50's, walk down the street and enter a theater featuring music from the 60's, rock out to 80's music, and finish with 21st Century sounds. Let's look from this chronological viewpoint at these shows:
1. Memphis the Musical at the Shubert Theater - The show that won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical is the dynamic story of underground dance clubs of 1950's Memphis, Tennessee. But more than that, the storyline centers on a white radio DJ who wants to change the world. The story also tells about a black club singer ready for her big break. The concept of integration in music is based on actual events. The original score for the show was written by David Bryan, a founding member of the rock band Bon Jovi. He also won the Tony Award in 2010 for Best Original Score. Visit the show's website to hear some of the music from the show.
2. Baby It's You! at the Broadhurst Theater - Think back to the late 1950's and early 1960's when the Girl Groups were starting to come into prominence and you have some of the music featured in this show. The main storyline is about Florence Greenberg, the first woman to own a major record label and who also discovered and promoted the Shirelles. You'll hear the hit song "Dedicated to the One I Love" and other Shirelle classics. Addtionally, the story includes other well known groups' music such as "Shout," "Louie, Louie," and "It's My Party." The show's website has videos of some of the music performed from the show.
3. Rock of Ages at the Helen Hayes Theater - Nominated for 5 Tony Awards, this show has moved to its new home at the Helen Hayes after a successful near 2 year run at the Brooks Atkinson Theater on 47th Street. The music of the "big hair bands" of the 1980's is used to tell the story of a young man and a young woman who come to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles with big dreams of becoming stars. Right as they get together, problems with the Sunset Strip and a washed up rock star hone in on their lives. It is a happy ending and audiences enjoy rocking out to songs by Journey such as "Don't Stop Believing," and "Here I Go Again." There are a number of songs from artists from the era whose music is a part of the show. "I Wanna Rock" and "Cum on Feel the Noise" are show stoppers. Visit the show's website for more information.
4. American Idiot at the St. James Theater - Although this show is due to close in April, 2011, it has had a successful run on 44th Street for well over a year. Nominated for a number of Tony Awards in 2010, the music comes directly from the hit band Green Day and their album of the same name. The storyline centers on today's post 9/11 youth and their experiences trying to fit into the world. The music and the score are incredible. The talented cast and on- stage band produce a show with incredible energy. Hate to see this show closing because the fans that have been coming to see it have brought so much enthusiasm to the area. Look for information about the show and the cast soundtrack on the show's website.