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Shankman wants to rock audiences

Broadway’s current lineup includes a number of famous movie titles crafted or crammed onto musical adaptations — “Ghost,” “Sister Act” and ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” So it seems only fair that traffic should flow in both directions, which it does with “Rock of Ages,” the star-studded film adaptation of the still-running Broadway musical opening this week.

It’s a traditional boy-meets-girl story, set with tongue in cheek in the heavy metal, hair band milieu of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip in the 1980s. At its helm is Adam Shankman, the man who made the movie of the musical that was made from the movie “Hairspray.”

Shankman began his career dancing in music videos with Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. With “Rock of Ages,” he has joked about being a gay man making a musical that will appeal to heterosexual guys.

“It’s sort of for everybody,” he says, “but that’s been the elusive audience for movie musicals. There’s not a lot of straight guys who are like: ‘C’mon! Let’s go see that musical this weekend!’ This one gets everyone because it has the exact same joy, you hope, and it has the classic rock, and it’s sexy and it’s funny. At least I think so. So it has a nice broad appeal.”

The starry cast surrounding the boy (Diego Boneta) and girl (Julianne Hough) includes folks with musical cred like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mary J. Blige. It also includes some tune-carrying novices like Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti and, most notably, Tom Cruise, whom Shankman describes as “kind of amazing.”

“The man worked so hard,” Shankman says of the superstar. “Harder than basically anything else he’s ever done. This was not something that came naturally to him and he was so excited about the notion of making something like this. He’s a man who loves challenges. Originally it just tickled him and then suddenly he started realizing that basically he was being paid to gain new skills and he loved that.”

Shankman already is sharpening his skills on his next job — directing Goldie Hawn, Jason Bateman and Zac Efron. “It’s a movie called ‘This is Where I Leave You,’ based on the novel by Jonathan Tropper. It is a very funny, but very emotional, but very funny movie,” he says.

In the meantime, there’s a series of “Rock” premieres to attend. “I just want people to have fun,” Shankman says. “I just want them to go in with the right spirit and understand that this is just a good time at a party and to just enjoy it for that.”

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