When rockers reach a certain age, one of the following things usually happens. They either dreamed of burning out, but they fade away; they try to continue performing the way they always have before, blissfully unaware that they look like the Crypt Keeper, and have mostly lost their voices, strutting about like roosters, making final millions off their glory days; they appear to have made deals with the devil, continue to perform as they always have, looking and sounding BETTER than in their glory days, when in reality, they should be melting in a corner somewhere from all the toxic substances they and their friends imbibed, making mere mortals yearn for a hot gray streak and some tight pants; OR, they reinvent themselves. Who would have thought that Hot Legs, Maggie May singing Rod Stewart would have decided at some point to put on a tux, or a velvety smoking jacket and turn that bluesy voice to the standards? And succeed? What’s that you say? Nobody? I agree, but honestly, his voice lends itself to those sexy old songs, so when you think about it, it’s not much of a stretch. You want to know who IS a surprise? Everybody’s old Twisted friend Dee Snider, HE has blown me away. Mr. We’re Not Gonna Take it, has wiped off the makeup, lost the belly shirts, brushed his hair and written a Christmas musical, and it ROCKS!
Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale is previewing in Chicago. I had reason to be up there for a few days with the family, and we wanted to see some theatre. We are BIG fans of musicals, and the Million Dollar Quartet was playing, I kind of wanted to see it, but my husband had other ideas. He had been looking at what was playing and he told me he wanted to go see the Christmas Tale. Now I experienced my teen years during the 80’s, so I am no stranger, and you might say, I’m a pretty big fan of hair bands and heavy metal, but I will admit I had a moment of trepidation. I thought about it though, and remembered that I regularly drag the Mr. to the ballet, and we are going to see Cinderella in January, so I said ok. He excitedly got online and in about four minutes had purchased tickets for our family, which includes an eighteen year-old daughter and a thirteen year-old son.
I’m not gonna lie. I spent the afternoon certain we had just blown our money, but I was SOOOOO wrong. We got to the theatre, and were greeted with classic Christmas music, a set that looked like a backstage area, with a cozy, Christmas-y living room set up, complete with tree, in the corner. We were given little red or green flash lights when we entered, which my husband and I immediately recognized as a substitute for that rock concert staple, the lighter. Suddenly, Dee Snider’s voice boomed out of nowhere (kind of like the rock god that he is) telling us that we paid to see a ROCK & ROLL Christmas show, not some boring old stuffy show, and what the heck was with the boring, slow music, which then changed to some more appropriate rock Christmas music. Mr. Snider came out on stage in rock and roll leather (toned down a little, but right about where it should’ve been), took his seat in the leather chair in the cozy corner, and began his role as narrator.
The description I’m going to give you here is going to be frustratingly limited. If I tell too much, it will ruin the COMPLETELY unexpected surprise at the end. The gist of the story is as follows. We have a frustrated heavy metal band trying to make it. They started out ten or fifteen years too late, and have been trying to get their hair band to a level of success seemingly impossible for such a group today. They try everything they can think of, including some pretty shady dealings with a certain unsavory character, who apparently bestows good health, attractive gray streaks, and good skin to rockers who should be dead, but they continue to struggle. The lead singer, D.D., played by Adam Michaels, is one of the prettiest men since Bret Michaels in his heyday. He does a fantastic job in his pink spandex and beautifully applied make up. My daughter was speechless, because she’d never seen a pretty man before, and my thirteen year old son was speechless with horror because he’d never seen a pretty man before. The rest of the band (except the drummer, who was a very funny bright spot) physically remind me of rockers from the 80’s, but I’ll let you decide who you think they look like, because that’s half the fun.
I really can’t say more than that about the actual plot, because it would be shameful of me to ruin the ending for you. What I WILL tell you, is that Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale, is one of the best times I’ve ever had at the theatre. It was funny, it had a great message, there were some good-natured jabs at some other older rockers, and some current pop culture references that my kids got. There were old Twisted Sister songs, Christmas songs, and a few new ones, written just for the show. I will also tell you, that at the very end, when everybody including Dee comes out on stage together to rock the audience out of the theatre, the happy vibes are palpable. You know how you always hear about how performers feed off the energy of the audience? Well, Mr. Snider was so joyous, and excited, and seriously, just plain happy, that the happy vibes came off of him in almost visible waves, and everyone in that fairly small theatre could feel them. His face lit up like a little kid, and we all felt so energized and great and happy when we left, that I’m having a hard time putting the degree to which we felt wonderful into words. We saw the show two nights ago, and as we drove back to Cincinnati from Chicago today, my family was talking about how we all still felt so great because of it.
Since the show is previewing in Chicago, getting it’s sea legs as it were, I’m not sure if it will end up in New York, but I really hope it does. The world needs more of this kind of entertainment. There was nothing negative, nothing nasty or mean; it proves that any kind of topic can be tackled without nudity, cursing, hateful actions, or fear. It really is a great show for the whole family. If Dee Snider sees this (and chances are he might, because I’m going to email him a link to it) hear me loud and clear; if the show goes to Broadway, don’t let them ruin it, and WRITE MORE PLAYS, MUSICALS, ETC. You’ve got a great thing going here. Use that giant brain that you obviously have to spread more of the kind of happiness you have created with this show. The world needs more joy. Good job sir. We like you, and we like your show. Merry Christmas 🙂
The show is playing through December at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago, Illinois. Go see it.